Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana (D&G)is reportedly suing two US bloggers behind the Instagram account @diet_prada. Citing Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, which is aiding the sued bloggers, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that the fashion house is seeking damages amounting to more than US$590 million. Scafidi said D&G is seeking a compensation of US$5.3 million to restore brand image since 2018, and damages of US$3.5 million for the company, as well as US$1.1 million for its co-founder Stefano Gabbana.
Additionally, according to CNA, D&G is also seeking more than US$10 million for the cancellation of the Shanghai show, another US$10 million for staff expenditures and over US$106 million for the amount of Asian sales lost from November 2018 to March 2019.
The lawsuit was confirmed by the two creators of Diet Prada, Tony Liu and Lindsay Schuyler. In an Instagram post, they said this comes after they criticised D&G's 2018 advertising campaign on Chinese social media platform, Weibo, for its stereotypical and sexist depiction of a Chinese woman, and revealed anti-Asian remarks originating from its co-founder Gabbana’s Instagram account. "Following the widespread negative response to its advertising campaign and the withdrawal of many Chinese models and guests from a planned fashion show in Shanghai, the event was cancelled and D&G issued a public video apology featuring its founders," the post added. Liu and Schuyler's Instagram account Diet Prada provides commentaries on fashion brands, and speaks out on social issues in the industry. It has over 2.5 million followers.
"Having cultivated Diet Prada as a platform where we can denounce racism, amplify stories from the larger black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community, and hold the fashion industry to a higher ethical standard, has been one of the most rewarding experiences thus far and our only hope is to protect that," Diet Prada's Instagram post said.
Unfortunately 2018 was a rough year for D&G as its campaign “DG Loves China” came under fire for featuring a Chinese woman being told how to use chopsticks to enjoy Italian food. The videos, which were posted on Weibo to promote Dolce & Gabbana's runway show in Shanghai, showed a woman eating large plates of pizza, spaghetti and a giant Italian cannolo pastry, while a male voiceover tells her what to do. The campaign ignited the wrath of Chinese netizens, giving rise to the trending term "Boycott Dolce" with netizens accusing the fashion brand of demonstrating racism and demanding for an apology.
The brand subsequently got into even more trouble, when a series of posts criticising Chinese consumers was posted on both its official account and Gabbana's personal account. The brand later clarified that both accounts have been hacked and they were not the ones behind the posts. In an Instagram post on its official account, the fashion brand said it was sorry for any distress caused and have "nothing but respect" for China and its people. Although D&G distanced itself from the posts on its social media account, the brand continued to face boycott calls from Asian consumers. This eventually led to the cancellation of its runway show in Shanghai.
Earlier last month, Prada cut ties with Chinese actress Zheng Shuang after the latter was embroiled in a surrogacy controversy one month after being appointed as Prada's brand ambassador. According to Reuters, Zheng was accused by her former partner for attempting to abandon two young children who the couple conceived via a surrogate in the US. This caused Weibo users to call Zheng "irresponsible" and "vicious", and users also reportedly commented on Prada's Weibo account, mocking the brand for bringing Zheng on board. Prada has since announced on Weibo that it has terminated all partnerships with Zheng without providing further details.
Separately, Balenciaga came under fire for a gaudy ad featuring its latest limited-edition Hourglass handbags, in celebration of Qixi, China's version of Valentine's Day. The campaign picture on Balenciaga's Tmall store, an online retail platform operated by Alibaba, shows a male model handing a female model a red Hourglass handbag with the Chinese words "He loves me" written on it. In the background is a waterfall and surrounding them are red roses and red balloons that clearly look photoshopped.
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