An advertisement by Dolce & Gabbana is causing a major crisis for the Italian fashion company, particularly in China and among Chinese all across the world. Not alone in the outrage, many people — other than those of Chinese heritage and background — are questioning the ad which shows a Chinese woman struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks. Many top e-commerce sites, such as Ali Baba and JD.com are removing the Dolce & Gabbana products due to their seemingly racist tone.
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.
-statement from Lane Crawford after pulling Dolce & Gabbana products from its catalog
Further compounding the negative impact of the ad are offensive comments that were said to be sent from the personal Instagram account of Dolce & Gabbana’s co-founder — Stefano Gabbana, claiming it to be the work of hackers rather than Gabanna himself. However, the public remains doubtful.
The motherland is more important than anything else.
-statement from Yangmatou
As Chinese consumers make up more than 30% of global spending on luxury products, this backlash could very well prove to be quite damaging to the Italian luxury fashion house.
In attempt to limit the damage and further fallout, Stefano Gabbana and co-founder Domenico Dolce issued a video message which was posted on their Facebook page in which the two apologize for the ad.
Hong Kong-based fashion retailer Lane Crawford, a fashion retailer with several outlets in mainland, said Friday that it will indefinitely pause the sale of any Dolce & Gabbana goods in their stores, as well as online. They have reported a large number of customer returns as a sign of discontent with the ad.
In a statement issued by Lane Crawford, they declare: “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.”
Yangmatou, an E-commerce company that operates a marketplace for cross-border commerce for high quality products, said in a social media post Wednesday that it had removed 58,000 D&G products. “…the motherland is more important than anything else.” reads a statement issued on their social media accounts.
Yoox and Net-A-Porter — two of the largest online luxury fashion retailers — have also removed D&G products.
As for the apology issued on video by Dolce & Gabbana, many believe that it may not be enough to prevent a serious drop in sales. China, it’s important to note, is the world’s second largest economy. The impact to D&G could be quite damaging.