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Is Dolce and Gabbana a problematic fashion brand?

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Oh my dear Dolce and Gabbana, you screwed up big time and got what you deserved.

We all know Dolce and Gabbana as the designer duo from Italy but they are so much more than just a normal designer duo. Now, I’m not someone who writes about everything that I feel about a brand, but with Dolce and Gabbana this doesn’t stand true. In no shape or form, do I want to support a brand whose owners are racist and disrespectful. So, without sugar coating it,let’s get into why Dolce & Gabbana might be the most problematic fashion brand ever.  

Dolce and Gabbana were to showcase their 2019 alta moda aka Haute Couture collection in Shanghai, China. The guestlist included all of the most prominent figures in the fashion industry in China from fashion editors,celebrities, models, influencers and many more. To promote the show, Dolce & Gabbana launched a series of social media posts. It all started when people started noticing the ignorant undertones of these post and finally all hell broke loose when they posted the “Eating with a Chopstick” video series. I would not be posting the videos here but if you are interested in watching them, the videos are still up on the brand’s Instagram account or you can see the subtitle version here – https://www.instagram.com/p/BqXYtsZl6D5/.

But I do want to break down why and how these videos are racist.

The main overview of the video is a young Asian woman in a sequined red D&G dress and jewels eating Italian food with a pair of chopsticks with a voiceover in Mandarin. The video quickly gained traction and was shared on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform (P.S. Instagram is banned in China)and on other Chinese social media platforms. It quickly became popular on these networks but for all wrong reasons. The topic was literally on the 3 most talked about topics on Weibo and WeChat. People started noticing the racist undertones of the video and how ignorant and offensive the video actually was. To break it down here is a breakdown of the video:

  1. On Weibo, a user called “manchengkuangzao (满城狂草)”pointed out that the look of this Asian model – tiny eyes and childish smile –is a typical Oriental type that is understood in the Western culture.
  2. The voiceover and the tone used for it has a lot of sexual undertones like when the video featured cannoli, a male narrator asked the model “is it too huge for you?” as well as using the words like deep in a sexual tone. “manchengkuangzao (满城狂草)” also pointed out that the subtitle referred to chopsticks as a “small-stick” tool while called Italian food great and tasty, which made many people feel the brand is arrogant about China’s cultural roots.
  3. The narrator offers seemingly patronizing advice such as “don’t attempt to use the chopsticks as knives” and”just use your chopsticks like pliers.”

If you want to know more, you can read this open letter from Kechen Qiuuhttps://www.facebook.com/Cocoqkc/posts/1449248151885902

Things went out of hand when people started commenting on the video regarding how the video might be inappropriate and these comments were deleted.

Further, the Instagram account DietPrada and michaelatranova shared screencaps of Stefano Gabbana’s conversation with Instagram user michaelatranova (Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova). The screenshots show Stefano using derogatory and racist comments and complaining about the video being taken down on social media sites in China. You can go to Michaela or DietPrada’s Instagram and see the whole conversation. Soon after that, people started sharing the messages they received from Dolce and Gabbana’s official Instagram account.

Soon after, people started messaging the brand regarding the same,the brand replied with derogatory comments. Stefano Gabbana also blocked
Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova and started claiming that all this was fake. Things took a turn for the worst when Dolce and Gabbana posted the following on their Instagram account:

The brand took no responsibility for the videos posted, they never apologized, they just defended themselves. This just makes me wonder, is the marketing/PR department at Dolce and Gabbana unaware of the basic concepts of Crisis Management and Cross-Cultural Communication? As an management student, this was the first thing that was taught to us. 

All of this led to modelling agencies in China withdrawing their models from the show and A-list Chinese celebrities deciding not to go the show and banning the use of any Dolce and Gabbana products in the future. The brand was also dropped from e-commerce websites and stores in China with an airport duty free store sharing an image of empty Dolce and Gabbana shelves on Instagram.  Estelle Chan, a French model of Chinese descent, posted this to her Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

To @dolcegabbana and @stefanogabbana

A post shared by Estelle Chen 陈瑜 (@chen_estelle) on

The show has now been cancelled. But does this incident make Dolce and Gabbana a problematic brand. The truth is that this is not an isolated event. Dolce & Gabbana has been very controversial even in the past. Here is a timeline of all the times Dolce & Gabbana crossed a line:

Dolce and Gabbana

In the end I would just like to say that what and who we choose to wear, it is our personal choice but I would never support a brand that has no ethical or moral responsibility irrespective of however amazing the products might be.

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20 Comments

  1. Chloe @callmecoco.co

    I’ve never been a fan of this brand and after reading this story I like them even less

    23 . Nov . 2018
  2. Rhian Westbury

    I didn’t know much about D&G and how they might have been a problematic brand. Such an interesting post though x

    23 . Nov . 2018
  3. fashionandstylepolice

    I have heard all sorts of stories about D&G. I think the brains behind the brand are a bit disturbed. They always have controversies surrounding them.

    23 . Nov . 2018
  4. Elizabeth 0

    Another new brand to try i’ll check this out D&G interesting brand name.

    24 . Nov . 2018
  5. Elizabeth O

    Another interesting brand to try.What a pretty nice Brand name look so good. I’ll check this out.

    24 . Nov . 2018
  6. Erin Haugerud

    Hmmm interesting!!! Thanks for the breakdown!

    25 . Nov . 2018
  7. aisasami

    I don’t know about designers but this is pretty low. I am glad that the people who ran the event and attended the event in China stood up and said no to these guys’ comments. They are also petty for hiding their comments by saying they were “hacked”. Come on, own up to your comments.

    25 . Nov . 2018
  8. Rosey

    I hadn’t heard about this controversy. I smelled a D&G fragrance once in the store that I just loved. I never could remember the name of it though, and they have so many, lol

    25 . Nov . 2018
  9. David Elliott

    That’s kind of wild that a brand would think such a video would be ok. I had never heard about the incident. It’s just crazy that companies with PR firms would let something like this so easily get by unnoticed.

    25 . Nov . 2018
  10. Elle

    I’ve never been a fan of D&G, the company never appealed to me so this isn’t surprising. I do however think that some brands don’t mind negative stereotypes if it keeps their brand in the headlines.

    26 . Nov . 2018
  11. Clarice

    I am so sorry to hear about this. I love D&G but this is definitely not welcome. They should be more careful and respectful of other culture. I hope they stop and rectify this.

    26 . Nov . 2018
  12. Konstantina

    Even though I used to support this brand lately I can’t look away from the facts. This video was trully uncalled for and very inappropriate.

    06 . Dec . 2018
  13. Latte Lindsay

    This is a big problem with brands, they lose touch with what is important and with humanity. They forget to stay humble.

    07 . Dec . 2018
  14. Patricia-Ann Que

    wow that ‘s some drama going on! but then there is always something which makes the industry somehow more interesting than ever!

    07 . Dec . 2018
  15. Kay

    This is sad to read. I’ve never bought anything of their items and don’t plan to.

    07 . Dec . 2018
  16. Brittany

    I’ve been trying to shop local and more small shops that give back. I didn’t know any of this about Dolce and Gabbana. Thanks for bringing it to the light

    07 . Dec . 2018
  17. Tiffany

    HOLY CRAP! And then they say “oh whoops our account was hacked” which is the PR version of “new phone, who dis”. This is insane and it’s kind of frustrating that this is the first I’ve heard of it??? How is this not all over my FB feed!!?? People should hear about this.

    07 . Dec . 2018
  18. Nina

    Wow that’s so crazy, All I can say from living in Spain is that Europeans still often look down upon Asians. They assume all Asians are Chinese and think that they’re people to laugh at. It’s really kind of shocking. Then when you call them out on it, they just go “oh I was just kidding. Of course I respect everyone.” It seems that same attitude is prevalent here.

    08 . Dec . 2018
  19. Katie Beck

    I love D7G jeans and it is too bad that this happened. Something to think about when shopping for sure.

    08 . Dec . 2018
  20. bestiesnotepad

    Didn’t know about this mess. Can’t believe D&G could do this, will read more of it..

    10 . Dec . 2018

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