Italian brand caught in racism controversy faces holiday season woes
Business for Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana (D&G), recently caught in a racism controversy that angered many in China, is also impacted in Manhattan as local Chinese-Americans and visitors from China seem to be boycotting the brand.
Only a few Chinese or Chinese-American customers could be spotted entering into D&G stores or patronizing the Italian fashion designer’s special counters in Manhattan in New York in recent days, the Chinese-language newspaper The China Press and the Chinese-language TV news channel Sinovision both reported on November 24.
“After nearly three hours of waiting at the entrance of the Fifth Avenue D&G store on Black Friday, I barely saw any Chinese faces going in,” a Sinovision reporter said in a news program run by the channel.
Black Friday, which falls on the day after Thanksgiving, marks the start of the biggest sales and shopping season in the US.
A Chinese-American surnamed Wang told The China Press that she used to like the D&G brand a lot, but the latest controversy “changed my perception,” which made her decide to “quit visiting D&G stores this holiday season.”
“Although D&G and its designers have apologized for what happened, it seems to me that they did so just to save their markets and were not sincere enough,” Wang added.
According to the newspaper, sales staff at D&G stores and counters in Manhattan have been reluctant to comment on the recent controversy or its impact on their business, but some have insisted that they are still expecting an increase in customer flow and sales revenues for this holiday season.
Two Chinese students from the State University of New York at Stony Brook still made some purchases at the D&G Fifth Avenue store on Friday. The two, identified only by their surnames Ding and Zhao, told The China Press that they also believed the Italian designer’s apologies “came too late and lacked sincerity.”
D&G provoked a public outcry after some short videos it released to promote a fashion event in Shanghai were accused of cultural insensitivity and racism. To make things worse, the company’s cofounder Stefano Gabbana later got into an online quarrel with some netizens.
The impact of the incident has been considerable.
The D&G Shanghai show had to be canceled after many Chinese celebrities decided to boycott it, and Chinese e-commerce giants like Alibaba and JD.com also removed D&G products from their platforms amid the escalating row.
On November 22, the company founders posted a subtitled video that stated: “We offer our sincerest apologies to Chinese people worldwide.”