Dolce & Gabbana Is Racist But I'm Not Surprised

Dolce & Gabbana has dug itself quite the hole this past week with their #DGTheGreatShow social media campaign which advertises the Italian luxury brand’s upcoming fashion show in China. The three-part video series showcases a Chinese model attempting to eat three different Italian dishes with chopsticks. It becomes apparent to the viewer that the model is unfamiliar with how to consume these foods as a narrator speaking in Chinese patronizes her lack of understanding. Quite obviously, her confusion is meant to be the butt of the joke. Additionally, the narrator mispronounces “Dolce & Gabbana” and “Bravissimo” with a thick accent, making fun of the way Chinese people speak. This humiliating reduction of the Chinese people and culture was presented as D&G’s “tribute to China”, a so-called act of love.

Deservedly so, the brand was heavily criticized across multiple media platforms for its racist representation and a large number of models and celebrities participating in the show dropped out in protest. Subsequently (and fortunately), the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai officially cancelled the show’s production. But wait, the plot thickens. Amidst the controversy, screenshots were posted in which Stefano Gabbana, half of D&G’s founding duo, wrote heinous and derogatory comments about China, further confirming allegations that the brand’s “tribute” to China is really a money-grabbing move to infiltrate and exploit the booming Chinese fashion market. It’s a premeditated heist, not a tribute.

Like many cowards do, both Stefano Gabbana and the D&G brand posted on their respective Instagrams stating that their accounts had been hacked. Rather than owning up to their actions, they evade responsibility and accountability to try and save their own necks. What irks me even more is their superficial apology that apologizes solely for any “distress” that consumers felt. Translation: we’re sorry if you’re hurt, but it’s not our fault. A more effective response, in my humble opinion, would be to admit that they made a mistake and actively put in the effort to learn and understand why and how their actions perpetuate racist representations. I seriously doubt their apology was sincere, given that the campaign videos in question have yet to be taken down.

In all honesty, I’m not surprised. Not one bit. The two men behind Dolce & Gabbana have been at the center of several controversies, including (but not limited to): a misogynistic ad campaign alluding to and glorifying gang rape, a photo ban that restricted only Hong Kong citizens from taking pictures of their Hong Kong flagship store, and heteronormative comments that opposed gay adoption, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogacy in favor of a “traditional” husband-wife household. The duo has a sickeningly long track record of discriminatory and outright offensive statements. Time and again, they stir up controversy, issue a half-assed apology, and move on like nothing happened. Why isn’t there greater reprimand for the brand’s clearly-evident racism, misogyny, and homophobia? Part of the blame is on us as consumers. The controversy’s lifetime is brief and eventually erased through cultural amnesia as people continue to spend their money on D&G products. It’s not enough to be temporarily angry. We have to stay angry and demand change. We must refuse to give them our time, money, likes, and views in order for our anger to be heard and seen. #BoycottDG to teach them that they cannot abuse their power to belittle and marginalize people who are different from themselves. Stand up and demand accountability.

tl;dr: Stop supporting Dolce & Gabbana. Don’t even bother watching the aforementioned videos. Neither are worth your time.

- Julia Eunji Choi -


Raylene Pereyra