Stylish or Stereotypical?

By Etzabella Pabón

   Dolce & Gabbana — an italian powerhouse brand internationally recognized for its elite ranking in luxury fashion — has faced extreme backlash in claims of racism towards the Chinese culture. In November of 2018, attempting to promote their upcoming fashion show, D&G released a video ad featuring a Chinese model eating Italian food with chopsticks. Members of the Chinese audience took offense at this visual, identifying it as a “stereotype-laden depiction.” Many refused to participate in supporting the brand, and, at the last minute, the multi-million dollar D&G showcase scheduled to take place in Shanghai was cancelled. Biracial model Estelle Chen, who is both French and Chinese, spoke out on behalf of the Chinese fashion industry by firmly asserting that "China is rich, yes, but China is rich in its values, its culture, and its people, and [it] won't spend a penny on a brand that does not respect that." Founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are known for making some controversial statements throughout past years including their claim in 2017 that “sexual harassment isn't considered violence.” Leaked Instagram direct messages between a Chinese reporter and Stefano Gabbana revealed that Gabbana said, “The whole world knows that the Chinese eat with chopsticks and the Westerners eat with forks!! Is this racism?” He then went on to say, “So you are racist because you eat dogs?” further perpetuating racial stereotypes. Business of Fashion reports that China accounts for more than 33 percent of global commerce, making this potentially the largest boycott in fashion history.