Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana saw their fate coming- and did nothing to save themselves. Amid the controversy of their now-canceled Shanghai Show and given the preceded and racist campaign to hype the show, some retailers have now ridded themselves of all D&G merchandise.
In the now-deleted campaign video which used the tags #DGlovesCHINA #DGthegreatshow, a Chinese model drenched in red sequins struggles to eat Italian food, such as spaghetti and pizza, with chopsticks. Social media users found it tasteless but harmless. In China though, it was anything but mild. On the website Weibo, where the video was uploaded by D&G to promote the show, Asian users started using the hashtag #BoycottDG.
D&G has been on a thorny path for a while, thanks to Stefano Gabbana’s drive to push his living ideals onto others in the form of insults through social media; one time calling kids born through artificial insemination “artificial babies.” He has also expressed his distaste for the gay community on various occasions. Despite his mental derailment, it seems the brand was unaffected with the exception of some pro-gay celeb advocates, such as Elton John and Courtney Love, who have cut ties with the designers forever.
The day of the “Great Show” the Instagram account Diet Prada shared screenshotted messages of a conversation between Stefano Gabbana and a social media user, where the exchange of words is insulting and harsh on Gabbana’s side, to say the least. On it, he goes to say that “China is an ignorant smelling mafia” and continues on to say that the Chinese are wrong for eating dogs, all while using the “poop” emoji to describe their culture.
Not so long after, while the models were preparing to walk the show, the message-exchange post went viral. Chinese authorities showed up to shut down the show. An Asian model who was booked to walk it recounts the incident in an article for Dazed Digital titled “I watched the D&G show fall apart from the inside”:
“I grab my things and leave. The police coming wasn’t that surprising to me; there was no way they’d have risked a massive protest outside the venue had the thing gone on. Already D&G is trending on Weibo nationwide. It will be the most talked about thing on the Chinese internet for the next two days.”
All models were escorted out of the venue by Chinese police; most of them crying because “this was such a great opportunity for their career and now it’s not happening.”
A few hours later, Gabbana re-posted a picture of the message with bold red letters that read “NOT ME”, declaring he had been hacked. This claim was deemed fake by social media users, given the fact that he has a history of retaliating to anyone who doesn’t agree with his morals. Stefano first issued a statement on his IG account saying he was hacked; then, another one where he apologized to everyone who worked on the show.
This, of course, wasn’t enough. Later that week, both–Stefano and Domenico–sat down and recorded themselves issuing an apology. But how can one redeem themselves in the midst of such racial controversy? It didn’t happen. People didn’t buy it, and retailers didn’t either; quite literally. A number of retailers have dropped the brand, including high-end fashion giant Net-a-porter.com and Yoox.com who have removed the brand from its Chinese shopping platforms. Other Chinese retailers such as Alibaba, JD, Secoo, VIPshop, and Netease, have also removed the brand from their sites.
As for the fate of the brand, it might be dead. Or it might be forgotten in a couple of years–although the pieces always trail behind you, take John Galliano’s racist slurs. That was about a decade ago, and, in true honesty, who can forget that?
Gabbana’s apology seems scripted and robotic. Dragging along his business partner onto his mess, and being backed by a giant production team, the question is…why didn’t anyone stop him sooner? The fate of the brand hangs by a thread.