Entertainment

Dolce&Gabbana founders apologize to China after ad, Instagram fiasco

The co-founders of Dolce&Gabbana apologized Friday in a video on Chinese social media after promotional videos seen as racist and subsequent Instagram messages stoked a furor in one of the world's largest markets for luxury goods.

Italian designers dropped by Chinese stores, online retailers; major stars cut ties with brand

Dolce&Gabbana founders Domenico Dolce, left, and Stefano Gabbana offered an apology on Chinese social media Friday, amid a fiasco involving controversial video ads and insulting remarks about China made on Instagram. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

The co-founders of Dolce&Gabbana apologized Friday in a video on Chinese social media after promotional videos seen as racist and subsequent Instagram messages stoked a furor in one of the world's largest markets for luxury goods.

Domenico Dolce and Steffano Gabbana appeared in a nearly 1 1/2 minute video posted on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, saying they hope to be forgiven and will do their best to better understand and respect Chinese culture.

"We have always been in love with China," said Dolce.

"We love your culture and we certainly have much to learn. That is why we are sorry if we made mistakes in the way we expressed ourselves."

The Italian fashion house has been in hot water for the videos and subsequent insulting remarks made by the Instagram accounts of both the company and Gabbana.

Several screenshots showed Gabbana's Instagram account referring to China with crude terms and emoji as he defended the promotional videos.

The company blamed hackers for the Instagram comments.

The three promotional videos, which have been deleted from the company's Weibo account, feature a Chinese woman using chopsticks to eat pizza and other Italian food. Many Chinese social media users called the videos racist and full of outdated stereotypes.

In the apology video, the two designers wore black long-sleeve shirts, the kind they often wear to runway shows, and sat with their hands folded at a large conference table in a room decorated with formal, red-gilded wallpaper.

"We will never forget this experience and it will certainly never happen again," Gabbana said, adding, "From the bottom of our hearts, we ask for forgiveness."

They finish the video by saying "sorry" in Chinese.

Stars cut ties, stores drop merch

Celebrated actor Zhang Ziyi is among the influential Chinese stars who have distanced themselves from Dolce&Gabbana amid the furor. (Kin Cheung/Associated Press)

The backlash forced Dolce&Gabbana to cancel a major extravaganza earlier this week that the company had billed as one of its biggest shows ever outside of Italy. Chinese purchases at home and abroad account for about 30 per cent of global luxury goods sales.

Celebrated actor Zhang Ziyi, who starred in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, said on one of her social media accounts that the Italian brand had "disgraced itself."

Chinese pop idol Karry Wang and actress Dilireba, both Asia-Pacific brand ambassadors, have informed the company that they will terminate all co-operation.

The fallout spread to Hong Kong on Friday with upscale department store Lane Crawford joining Chinese retailers who stopped selling Dolce&Gabbana merchandise.

"With respect to our customers, we have removed the brand from all stores in mainland China, online and in Hong Kong," Lane Crawford President Andrew Keith said in a statement.

Dolce&Gabbana goods earlier disappeared from major Chinese e-commerce sites including Alibaba's Tmall and JD.com.

A duty-free shop at the Haikou Meilan airport on China's Hainan island announced on social media that it had pulled all the company's products. 

The backlash against the company forced Dolce&Gabbana this week to cancel a major extravaganza in Shanghai that the company had billed as one of its biggest shows ever outside of Italy. (Associated Press)

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