Friday, November 23, 2018

Pizza, Pasta and Chopsticks

Screengrabs of the videos in question that riled the Chinese

Dolce & Gabbana thought they were being very clever when they posted videos this week showing a Chinese model struggling to eat pizza and pasta with chopsticks. 

Chopsticks? How stupid can D&G be? 

Of course, the Chinese were distressed, upset and angry – and D&G were accused of trivialising Chinese culture and promoting unflattering stereotypes. 

That's not all. Messages purportedly written by co-founder Stefano Gabbana, which included offensive comments about the Chinese, went viral. 

The Italian luxury fashion house quickly apologized – but said it and Gabbana's Instagram accounts had been hacked. 

"We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China", a message from D&G said. 

Too late! The furore has built into an indignant crescendo. 

Local celebrities called for a boycott of the brand and their products were even pulled from Chinese e-commerce sites as the backlash against D&G grows. 

This faux pas risks alienating D&G from one of the world's biggest luxury markets. 

It is a crucial market for luxury firms. A 2018 report by consultancy Bain & Company forecast the luxury goods market in mainland China will grow by up to 22% this year. 

"Chinese consumers continue to stand out as a growth-driver for the industry", the report said. 

Already, D&G were compelled to cancel their Shanghai fashion show. 

It's not as if this incident was the first time Dolce & Gabbana have drawn controversy. 

Last April the brand posted a campaign on Weibo that showed impoverished people in run-down areas of Beijing pictured with Dolce & Gabbana models ahead of a catwalk show in the city. The pictures were flayed for stereotyping Chinese history by showing old parts of the city, rather than more modern depictions of Beijing. 

D&G also stirred trouble in 2016 when they called an item of footwear in their spring/summer collection a "slave sandal". 

Anyway, this latest controversy will hurt D&G business – but the long-term impact will depend on how they deal with the fallout. 

Yesterday, I was at the Ireka Toastmasters meeting on Level 18 of Wisma Mont Kiara in KL – there, I delivered another speech. Thank you to club president, Nor Fathiyyah for the speaking slot!

This time, it was a CC #5 Your Body Speaks titled Alive with Pain. I talked about my love for pain, LOL!

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