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Luxury in China

Chinese e-commerce sites remove Dolce & Gabbana products after anti-China slur by company founder

  • D&G said the Instagram accounts of the company and Stefano Gabbana had been hacked and its legal team was ‘urgently investigating’
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2018, 1:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 12:28pm

China’s biggest e-commerce platforms including Tmall, JD.com, Xiaohongshu and Secco removed Dolce & Gabbana products from their sites after its founder Stefano Gabbana said in a conversation on his Instagram account that China was a “country of sh*t”.

Gabbana’s comment, labelled a “racist outburst” by Chinese netizens, came in response to complaints that the fashion house’s DG Loves China video campaign was itself racist for showing a Chinese woman in a red D&G dress trying to use chopsticks to eat pizza, spaghetti and a giant version of the Italian pastry cannoli.

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Gabbana's Instagram conversation quickly spread on Chinese microblogging site Weibo where many Chinese celebrities, including actress Zhang Ziyi, actor Chen Kun and singer Karry Wang Junkai, announced they would not attend the D&G fashion show scheduled in Shanghai on Wednesday night.

D&G said on Instagram that the accounts of D&G and Stefano Gabbana had been hacked and its legal team was “urgently investigating”.

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However, that statement did not convince the Chinese. After the group boycott from celebrities and models, the Italian fashion brand cancelled its fashion show at the last-minute.

“What happened today was very unfortunate not only for us but also for all the people who worked day and night to bring this event to life,” D&G said on Instagram on Wednesday.

Chinese e-commerce platforms, an important retail outlet for D&G products in the country, reacted to the incident by removing the brand’s products from online. China is a major market for luxury brands, with Chinese consumers accounting for 33 per cent of global luxury goods purchases, according to Bain & Company, a figure forecast to rise to 46 per cent by 2025.

A search for “Dolce & Gabbana” on Thursday morning resulted in zero results on Tmall, a business-to-consumer online retail site operated by Alibaba Group. An Alibaba spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Online retail giant JD.com also removed D&G items from its self-owned shops. A JD spokesman declined to comment when reached by phone.

Product sharing and shopping platform Xiaohongshu, also known as Red, said it has removed all D&G items as well as user’s posts related to D&G.

“The interests of our motherland cannot be infringed upon. All collaborations are based on mutual respect,” a Xiaohongshu spokeswoman said. “We welcome global brands to come to China [but at the same time] international brands operating in China should respect China,” she added.

Chinese luxury e-commerce platform Secco said it has taken all D&G related products offline. A Secco spokesman said he had no further comment on the issue.

Chinese consumers boycott Dolce & Gabbana after social media ‘provocation’

“The company that only wants to make money in China but doesn’t respect Chinese people is doomed to go broke,” Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said on its official Weibo account after D&G cancelled the fashion show.

In other fall out, two of the companies ambassadors resigned. Singer Karry Wang Junkai, who was ambassador for the Asia-Pacific area, announced on Tuesday he would stop working for D&G, while actress Dilireba, the brand’s image ambassador for Asia-Pacific since February, also quit.

Additional reporting by Celia Chen and Li Tao