Dolce & Gabbana founders ask Chinese people for forgiveness after ‘racist outburst’
- Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce issue video offering their ‘sincerest apologies’ to Chinese people globally, apologise for ‘misunderstanding Chinese culture’
- The Italian fashion brand has faced a growing backlash after Gabbana’s comments describing China as a ‘country of s***’ were leaked
The founders of the Italian fashion label Dolce & Gabbana have issued an apology to the Chinese people after a growing backlash over Stefano Gabbana’s “racist outburst”.
In a video released on Friday, Gabbana and Domenico Dolce spoke of their love and respect for Chinese culture.
“We offer our sincerest apologies to Chinese people worldwide,” said Gabbana.
Dolce continued: “We hope our misunderstanding of Chinese culture can be forgiven.
“We’ve always been very crazy about China, we’ve visited it a lot. We’ve been to many cities. We love your culture.”
The video ended with the pair saying the single word “sorry” in Mandarin.
The fashion house has faced intense anger after an Instagram conversation in which Gabbana described China as a “country of s***” was leaked.
The brand had already faced widespread criticism for an advertising campaign which featured a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian dishes like pizza and cannoli with chopsticks, prompting accusations that it was stereotyping the Chinese.
The resulting backlash has forced the fashion chain to cancel a show in Shanghai and retailers in mainland China and Hong Kong have stopped selling its products.
Protesters have also targeted the chain’s flagship store in the heart of Milan’s fashion district.
Video footage of a protest in Milan on Wednesday, which showed dozens of Chinese people holding “not me” signs outside the store on the upscale shopping street Via Monte Napoleone, has been widely circulated on social media.
The protesters included Liu Xingyu, a male model who had appeared in one of the fashion house’s Milan shows.
The term “not me” has been adopted worldwide by people angered by Gabbana’s comment.
The company had previously apologised to “China and the Chinese people” and expressed regret that its Shanghai event had been cancelled, while Gabbana claimed that his Instagram account had been hacked.
On Thursday, Gabbana shared a post by another Instagram user that defended the brand and its founders.
“If Dolce & Gabbana was racist, they wouldn’t pay tribute a lot of times to China or Japan, or even having Chinese models on their shows runways or advertising … I’m a proud Albanian, I worked with them and never saw racism in them! I’m so sorry for people who always see only the half empty glass,” the post said.
The company said the cancellation of its show in Shanghai was “very unfortunate not only for us, but also for all the people who worked day and night to bring this event to life”.
Chinese celebrities, including Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Zhang Ziyi and actor and singer Chen Kun, who had been signed up to attend the multimillion-dollar event, have since joined the chorus of criticism.
The brand’s Chinese ambassadors, including Karry Wang Junkai, a member of the popular boy band TFBoys, and actress Dilireba, have also terminated their contracts.
Friday’s video may not have been enough to appease the fashion house’s critics.
Chinese social media users have scorned the apology, saying it lacked sincerity.
“We have a right to reject your apology, go make money off other countries, you aren’t fit to make money in China,” wrote one Weibo user.
“The apology was posted by the hacker,” other users joked.
Meanwhile, a screenshot of a WeChat conversation between a customer seeking a refund and a representative from Dolce & Gabbana’s children’s line has gone viral on Chinese social media.
In it, the woman says she no longer wants to wear the brand for fear people would “throw s***t at her” and asks for the 2,400 yuan (US$345) deposit she paid the company to be returned.
Beijing has opted out of getting involved directly in the issue, and foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday it was not a diplomatic issue and China did not wish to escalate it into one.
“Instead of asking the foreign ministry spokesperson, it is better to ask the ordinary people in China to see how they view this issue,” said Geng.