Dolce & Gabbana faces widespread boycott in China

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 23, 2018
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A man walks past a Dolce & Gabbana shop in Beijing on Nov. 22, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) founders apologized to Chinese people on Friday after facing a serious crisis as Chinese celebrities, collaborators and the public formed a boycott against the brand for the controversial racist remarks allegedly made by its co-founder Stefano Gabbana.

"Our family education taught us to respect the different cultures of the world. Here, in the face of our cultural misunderstanding, I hope to get your forgiveness," said Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce in a recorded video apology in Italian released Friday afternoon.

They added, "Our love for China is always there. Countless visits have made us more in love with Chinese culture. Of course, we still have a lot to learn. We will never forget this experience and lessons, and such incidents will never happen again. At the same time, we will do our utmost to understand and respect Chinese culture more," before they said "sorry" again in Chinese to end the video.

Previously, a series of seemingly weird and arrogant promotional videos to teach an Asian model how to eat Italian food using chopsticks were released to promote a huge fashion show, which was supposed to happen on Wednesday night, made many Chinese and Asian people uncomfortable. But the controversy escalated as the exposure of the alleged intensive exchanges on Instagram between Stefano Gabbana and an Asian student who questioned if the videos were racist, during which Gabbana called China "the country of sh*t."

The remarks angered Chinese people. Celebrities and models, including Zhang Ziyi and Chen Kun, who were supposed to attend the D&G event announced that they would not be attending. Although the brand and Gabbana urgently put out statements saying their Instagram accounts were hacked, no one bought it, and the fashion show was abruptly cancelled, costing millions of dollars for the fashion brand. On Nov. 21, overseas Chinese people even went to D&G's flagship store in Milan, Italy to protest.

However, the bad news didn't stop there. D&G suffered another huge blow as Chinese e-commerce portals such as,, Alibaba's Tmall,,, and Kaola all removed D&G products as searches on these sites produced no results, just before the Black Friday online shopping bonanza was about to begin in China. 

At the same time, Chinese D&G customers came back to its stores, quite empty after the scandal, to return goods they had bought. "After I saw the news on WeChat, I decided to return the D&G shoes I bought. I felt bad when wearing them, as if I'm not loving my country," a woman surnamed He told Beijing News on Thursday. She had bought a pair of shoes worth about 6,000 yuan (US$865) a few days ago.

"Only when D&G sincerely apologizes to Chinese people, I will consider buying this brand again. Otherwise I will opt for others, there are so many fashion brands in China," she added. 

So far, the brand has not apologized for Gabbana's "sh*t country" remarks as the co-founder insisted his account was hacked. In a statement released Thursday by Gabbana and co-founder Domenico Dolce, they said what happened that day was "very unfortunate not only for us, but also for all the people who worked day and night to bring this event to life." They added "from the bottom of our hearts, we would like to express our gratitude to our friends and guests."

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was also asked about the controversy on Thursday, saying he hoped the scandal would not become a "diplomatic" one.

"This incident is not a diplomatic issue and the Chinese side does not wish to escalate it into one," Geng said, "Instead of asking the foreign ministry spokesperson, it is better to ask the ordinary people in China to see how they view this issue."

Chinese model Estelle Chen who walked in this month's Victoria's Secret runway show, posted on Instagram, writing, "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."

D&G entered the Chinese market in 2006 and opened its first store in Shanghai. Now it has 58 stores in Chinese mainland as well as Hong Kong and Macao and is trying to expand its market share and online platforms in China, which has great potential for luxury sales. 

According to a report from the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company published in August last year, Chinese consumers will account for a majority of the growth of the global luxury-goods market, and by 2025 will account for 44 percent of the total global market.

Aside from the controversy, D&G's Chinese joint venture in Shanghai was punished and fined more than 400,000 yuan (US$57,650) in total by the local government twice between 2016 and 2017, as it sold fake, inferior-quality and unqualified products.

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