Dolce & Gabbana deemed “cancelled” by the fashion community for racist advertisement and comments

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Brianna Adkins

Last week, the luxury Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana caused a media storm with the release of an advertisement deemed “racist” by viewers. The brand released a social media campaign “#DGLovesChina” to promote its upcoming show in Shanghai. The commotion stemmed from the campaign’s advertisement, which played into harmful and generalized Asian stereotypes. Stereotypical Asian music played in the background of the commercial, which featured a young Chinese woman trying to eat oversized Italian meals with chopsticks. According to audiences, the ad was a mockery of Chinese culture, and it was condemned as racist by numerous Chinese individuals.

While the fashion world was horrified by the acts of D&G, this isn’t their first offensive action. The fashion house has a history of being culturally and morally insensitive. According to Teen Vogue, founders Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have previously criticized the legitimacy of children born out of in-vitro fertilization, publicly opposed gay adoptions, and cyberbullied Selena Gomez.

After creating the offensive new advertisement, the brand did play it for Chinese focus groups before releasing it publicly. The groups disapproved of the advertisement and told the fashion house how distasteful it was, but D&G released it anyway.

But the release of the ad isn’t the most controversial part. After the advertisement was released, Gabbana made racist comments about Chinese culture to Instagram user Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova, who debated with him about the racist advertisement. Tranova posted their conversation on Instagram.

 

After the conversation went public, Gabbana claimed that his account was hacked and that none of the comments were from him. His post claiming his innocence in the situation was later deleted.

Social media users became enraged by the acts of Gabbana, announcing that D&G was deemed “cancelled” in their minds. Following the media firestorm, the fashion company released an apology video in Italian with captions featured in Mandarin. Their apology was also translated to English for American viewers.

Dolce started off the video, saying, “Over the last few days we have thought a lot and with great regret about everything that has happened and what we have caused in your country, and we are very sorry. Our families have always taught us to respect the various cultures of the world and this is why we want to ask for your forgiveness if we made mistakes in interpreting yours.”

Gabbana continued, saying, “We also want to apologize to all Chinese people around the world, because there are many of them. We take this apology and message very seriously.”

“We have always been deeply in love with China. We’ve visited it, we’ve seen many of its cites. We love your culture and we certainly have a lot more to learn. This is why we are sorry we made mistakes in the way we expressed ourselves,” said Dolce.

“We will never forget this experience and it will definitely never happen again. In fact, we will try to do better,” said Gabbana. “We will respect the Chinese culture in every way possible. From the bottom of our hearts, we ask for your forgiveness.”

Both Dolce and Gabbana ended the video with, “apologies,” spoken in Mandarin, rather than Italian, seemingly trying to connect with the Chinese audience they offended.

The apology did not hit many soft spots for commenters on the video. Simon Lee, a YouTuber who commented underneath the apology video, had some choice words for the brand.

“You can choose to apologize, but Chinese will not choose to forgive,” said Lee.

One Twitter user also found problems with the apology, and said, “’If we made mistakes?’ Really? This is what passes for an apology in D&G world? Lots of people want a piece of China’s economic pie; China’s citizens are not limited to companies that are rude to them and disrespectful of their culture.”

“Keyword in this apology is ‘if.’ ‘We are sorry if we made mistakes,’” another user wrote, restating a quote from the D&G video. “In my opinion, this isn’t taking full responsibility for their actions. This isn’t a matter of if they made mistakes, because they did, and they should own that.”

Even the popular Instagram account Diet Prada commented on the situation. They were one of the first accounts breaking the news of the racist comments by D&G.

“Curious what the Chinese government will think of their country being called sh*t, basically,” Diet Prada wrote.

The aftermath of the actions of D&G has had serious financial consequences on the brand. Numerous people have found that D&G stores around the world shut down for a bit, but most importantly, many Chinese online retailers have dropped the brand. Boycotts against the brand continue to pick up steam around the world.

The media attention and the comments from Gabbana caused the fashion show that was to be held in Shanghai to be canceled by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai. The “#DGTheGreatShow” never happened, despite the apology from the brand.