The designers behind Dolce & Gabbana have recorded a video apology after the luxury fashion brand published a culturally insensitive ad, which was followed by offensive social media posts by one of the designers, leading to accusations of racism.
The brand had earlier released a video promoting “The Great Show,” a runway show in Shanghai scheduled for Nov. 21 that was supposed to be a tribute to China. Instead, the video featured a woman cluelessly eating pizza with chopsticks and appeared to mock Chinese people.
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, who founded the brand, posted an apology on their YouTube account last week, addressing the several incidents that angered Chinese authorities and celebrities.
“Over the past few days, we have thought long and hard with great sadness about everything that has happened and what we have caused in your country, and we are very sorry,” Dolce said, according to a translation.
Gabbana claimed that the duo “will never forget this experience, and it will certainly never happen again. We will respect the Chinese culture in every way possible. From the bottom of our hearts, we ask for forgiveness.”
Following the initial promotional ad debacle, Stefano Gabbana’s Instagram account told an Instagram user that his promotional videos were deleted from Chinese social media “because my office is stupid as the superiority of the Chinese.” The account continued with more offensive statements including “from now on in all the interviews that I will do international I will say that the country of 💩💩💩💩💩.”
The brand later claimed Gabbana’s Instagram had been hacked even though the account continued to share promotional videos for the show. Many Chinese consumers are doubtful the account had actually been compromised.
Chinese viewers also weren’t convinced by the latest video apology. Several social media users said the founders were “insincere” and that the pair doesn’t “love China,” but rather they “love money.” And many pointed out the apology couldn’t repair the damage the brand has already caused in the country. Other Chinese social media users also noted that the video was never posted directly to the pair’s Instagram feed, only being mentioned with a “link in bio” tag.
Shortly after the controversy, the brand announced it had canceled “The Great Show” fashion show just hours before it was set to begin. Dolce & Gabbana has been aggressively trying to develop its consumer base in China this holiday season, pouring money into its runway event. The recent incidents could prove even costlier, beyond just the money lost from the show’s cancellation. Almost a third of the brand’s sales come from Chinese consumers.
“They would benefit greatly from substantiating their hacking claims,” Luca Solca, head of luxury-goods sector at investment firm Exane BNP Paribas, told Quartzy.