If you have an Instagram account, let alone a remote interest in fashion, we're sure you've heard about Dolce and Gabbana's disastrous advertising campaign. You know, the one that commenced a whirlwind of events that eventually resulted in the brand's, well, downfall, as we here at Bagista would like to call it. To say we're fuming along with the majority of the world right now would be an understatement - here's the sitch:
Days before the brand was set to debut a 500-look collection in Shanghai, Dolce and Gabbana presented several videos on social media called "chopsticks eating." The videos featured a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks as a patronizing narrator instructed her on how to properly eat it. Oh yeah, the male narrator also made subtle offensive innuendos including statements like "don't attempt to use the chopsticks as knives" and "it's still way too big for you, isn't it?" when the model tried to eat a cannoli.
The shocking videos received major backlash as D&G, evidently, missed the mark on trying to target their Chinese clientele and, as a result, made a mockery of their culture instead. Originally posted on Weibo (China's equivalent to Twitter and Instagram) the videos were then removed less than 24 hours later. But despite the brand's best efforts to erase their indisputable racism, the videos had already spread across various social media platforms.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Stefano Gabbana had to go and dig the brand into an even deeper hole. The outrage was heightened when private messages between himself and Chinese, London-based blogger Michaela Tranova circulated Instagram. Just hours before the debut of "#DGTheGreatShow" fashion watchdogs of Instagram, Diet Prada, posted screenshots of the exchange between the two. It commenced with Tranova challenging Gabbana on the ad, and with good reason. Things then took a turn after Gabbana insinuated that Tranova herself is racist for "eating dogs." He proceeded to make offensive remarks including "China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia," with another message reading "And from now on in all the interviews that I will do international I will say that the country of [several poo emojis] is China."
Disgraceful - to say the very least.
The domino affect was almost instant. After the laughable and embarrassing attempt at trying to excuse his behaviour, Gabbana insisted that Dolce and Gabbana's Instagram as well as his personal account had been hacked, claiming the messages were not him. "Not Me" was posted in large red writing across a screenshot of the conversation, which of course, no one believed.
Angelica Cheung, editor-in-chief of Vogue China, flew back to Beijing. Countless celebrities announced that they would not be attending the show. China Bentley Modelling Agency pulled 24 of their models originally booked to walk the runway. Several models posted photos of their casting pictures with "Not Me" written prominently across them. Among the models who withdrew from the show was Estelle Chen, a Chinese-French model who took to Instagram claiming the brand's actions were "disrespectful and racist." "You don't love China, you love money," she wrote, "China is rich yes but China is rich in its values, its culture and its people and they won't spend a penny on a brand that does not respect that."
Hashtags #DGTheGreatShowCancelled and #BoycottDolce quickly spread across social media, causing an uproar of comments and posts from infuriated users. Diet Prada also posted videos of consumers burning their Dolce and Gabbana products, one even repurposed a D&G sweater as a pet blanket - LOL. Another video showed an employee of an unknown retailer physically removing handbags from their shelves and tossing them into a box. Police and security guards were seen posted at Dolce and Gabbana stores in both Beijing and Shanghai - "basically Trump Tower 2.0 lol" remarked the Instagram account.
Yangmatou, a Chinese e-commerce company, declared that "the motherland is more important than anything else" and removed 58,000 Dolce and Gabbana products from their site. Lane Crawford, an elite, Hong Kong-based luxury chain retailer said they are stopping the online and in-store sale of D&G products. "We believe that brands need to be aware of the cultural implications of their actions and understand the potential backlash when customers feel their values have been disrespected," said Lane Crawford in a statement. YNAP (Yoox Net-A-Porter) have pulled the brand from their China sites. Other e-commerce holdings to drop Dolce and Gabbana include Amazon China, Tmall, Jingdong and Suning Tesco.
Whew! What a rollercoaster. You'd like to think that when racist, homophobic, misogynist individuals are called out their careers would cease to exist but this unfortunately is not the case. Let's just say it's not Dolce and Gabbana's first rodeo when it comes to publicly being...what's the word again? Oh yeah, a*sholes, or "politically insensitive" if you want to put it nicely. For those of you who are still considering purchasing D&G goods, shall we revisit some of the other deplorable remarks made by Stefano Gabbana?
Lest we forget when he voiced his unwanted opinion on sexual harassment when he said "after twenty years you say, 'Ah! he touched my ass!' It's not violence, this. Who doesn't do sex? Who doesn't? It's a trend. Now the trend is sex," to Vogue UK. Or what about when he said that Dolce and Gabbana will discontinue when they pass away because he "[doesn't] want a Japanese designer to start designing Dolce and Gabbana" earlier this year. Or when he took to Instagram to call Selena Gomez "ugly" and the Kardashians "the most cheap people in the world" and Chiara Ferragni's custom-made Dior wedding dress "cheap." Doesn't he have anything better to do? Like, i don't know, designing clothes or something?
It's about time that these derogatory comments, backwards perceptions and archaic views had some repercussions. We like to think the world is progressing, and with that, fashion evolves with it. One of the most diverse industries in the world, fashion will not tolerate racism, homophobia, misogyny or any other forms of discrimination, and neither should anyone else. Diversity is something to be celebrated - point blank. It’s the foundation of what makes our world our world. The divide between us is getting smaller and smaller - and it’s about damn time. It would bode well for Dolce and Gabbana, particularly Stefano, to start using his platform to advocate for love, equality and justice. That is, if he even still has a platform to advocate on. As far as the majority of fashion lovers, insiders and critics are concerned, D&G is cancelled. And with that we shrug our shoulders, heave a heavy sigh and say the only thing we really can; karma’s a b*tch.