Chinese consumers’ backlash against Italy-based fashion house Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) has intensified, with some of its Beijing stores had no shoppers, and there’s no apparent end in sight to the controversy sparked by videos deemed by some to be offensive.
Three D&G stores in Beijing the Global Times visited on Wednesday morning were almost deserted, compared with neighbors such as Gucci.
D&G has more than 50 stores in the Chinese mainland, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which are considered first-tier cities.
A Shanghai-based consumer surnamed Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday that two D&G stores in Shanghai she visited on Monday are also mostly empty, although a few customers did still go in to browse.
Shop assistants declined to be interviewed when contacted by the Global Times on Wednesday.
“I will not buy its clothes for a period of time. If the brand wants to operate in China, it apparently needs some time to learn how to respect Chinese culture and change its ‘prejudiced’ attitude toward Chinese people. It’s not just about patriotism this time,” said a Beijing-based customer surnamed Chen, a former fan of the brand, on Wednesday.
She spoke with the Global Times outside of the D&G store in Beijing’s Yintai Center.
“It would offend me to continue to buy its items, but if others still wear or purchase them, it’s their choice. I will illustrate my attitude, like millions of others, until it shows some sincerity in its apology,” Chen noted.
Consumers have reacted strongly to several videos the brand posted on social platforms last week, which have been termed racist. The controversy escalated after the brand’s co-founder and designer Stefano Gabbana insulted China, saying that “the country of shit is China” and “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia.”
Although D&G apologized via all its social media accounts on Friday, Chinese people didn’t buy the apology, with some netizens saying that D&G is just apologizing to Chinese people’s wallets.
Chinese people’s boycott of the brand might also hurt its holiday sales in the coming Christmas season.
Following the series of incidents, the brand’s fashion show, which had been scheduled in Shanghai for November 21 was canceled, and its products have been removed from almost all major domestic e-commerce platforms including Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com.
“The anger will surely affect its physical stores, and its sales in China might also suffer, based on previous similar cases such as the THAAD issue [which involves a US missile system in South Korea], Zhang Zhiyuan, a professor at the Beijing-based Communication University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
“But in the D&G case, Chinese people are quite rational. We vented our anger online, but we’re acting in a restrained way in real life, with its stores in China all operating as normal,” Zhang said.
“When you want to do business in a country, you need to pay respect. That principle not only applies in China, but also in other areas of the world. As a popular international brand, D&G should be aware of that,” Zhang said.