Too many things happened in the past 24 hours or so. Yesterday, November 21, Dolce & Gabbana is supposed to hold their very first show in Shanghai. Just hours before the show, it was canceled. There was, of course, a reason for it. Claims (and proof) of racist acts and statements by the brand and co-founder Stefano Gabbana surfaced on the internet. Since its exposure on @diet_prada, a satirical fashion account on Instagram, the fall of D&G has begun.
Offensive claims against the brand are nothing new. They’ve been racist, sexist, and homophobic even. Through the years, many people have, over and over, exposed them for their true colors. Domenico Dolce once called IVF babies “synthetic babies” sparking up a boycott including Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend who had their daughter by using in-vitro fertilization. Both Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have also said that they “oppose gay adoptions”. Don’t even hope for their Tokyo show to go on. The two also said that they “don’t want a Japanese designer to start designing Dolce & Gabbana”.
The brand may have survived that blunder but not this one—and the figures can prove it.
China is a huge market for luxury goods and products. Especially for D&G, having 20 standalone stores in the country. According to Time, China’s consumers spent $100 billion on high-end purchases in 2017 alone. That’s almost a third of the world’s total high-end purchases. This only proves that the dependence of brands on the Chinese market increases by time. The effect of losing the Chinese market in the formula is evident in the $160-billion drop on global luxury stocks in October with the US-China trade war.
E-commerce sites have also been pulling out D&G products from their database. Amazon China, Alibaba, JD.com, and NetEase’s Kaola, and more returned no results upon searching iterations of D&G in both Chinese and English. Yangmatou, an international e-commerce site, has announced the pullout of 58,000 D&G products from their site the night after the show’s cancellation. Studies show that online sales can grow up to 25% by 2025, decreasing in-store sales from 91% to 75%. But with the pullout of these e-commerce sites, it seems as if D&G won’t be taking advantage of this growth.
The worst part about this issue is that it’s not just about the Chinese market—it’s about cultures coming together against one enemy: racism.
A lot of people, including big names in all sorts of industries, have already ceased their support for the brand. Movie star Chen Kun who was supposed to walk for D&G The Great Show had already flown all the way to China only to announce that he won’t be attending the show anymore. Zhang Ziyi also posted a photo on her Weibo account with the words “You dropped your sh*t, I’m returning it to you.” Soon after, her management formally announced that she’s pulling out of the show and that neither she nor anyone on her team would buy or use any item from the brand anymore. Other celebrities such as Darren Chen, Darren Wang, Fan Chengcheng, and even Vogue China’s editor-in-chief Angelica Cheung have joined the boycott. But it’s not just the Chinese people who have decided to boycott the brand. Even Ariana Grande has unfollowed the brand (though it’s observed that she’s still following Stefano Gabbana).
It should also be stated that a lot of millennials and Generation Zs make up the consumers who spend on luxury products. This is the same generation that is known to rise up against social issues—racism included. According to the Bain report, millennials are responsible for the 85% growth in luxury goods sales in 2017. Going against a generation more than a race could be one of the bigger problems D&G is facing right now.
But where does it go from here? It’s safe to say that it’s all going downhill. Stefano once said in an interview that once they’re dead, the brand dies with them. “Once we’re dead, we’re dead,” he shares. It seems as if we don’t need to wait for long. As @diet_prada called it, D&G might as well be Dead & Gone.