Dolce & Gabbana canceled a parade in Shanghai after protesting racially offensive publications on its social media accounts.
The controversy arose after a video posted on the Italian fashion brand's website on Chinese social networking site Weibo showed on Monday a Chinese model trying to use chopsticks to eat a pizza, a cannoli and a spaghetti.
Weibo users accused the label of trivializing the country's culture and of representing Chinese women in a racist manner. The video was removed in 24 hours, but had already been widely shared on social networks, where the hashtag #BoycottDolce began to circulate.
Accusations of racism and racial stereotyping intensified after what appeared to be a direct message conversation between Stefano Gabbana and fashion writer Michaela Phuong was shared by Diet Prada, an Instagram account known for openly criticizing the fashion industry . In the conversation, Gabbana seems to defend the campaign, make derogatory comments about Chinese and Chinese commentators, and complains that the video was removed.
Some of China's biggest celebrities had been billed to attend the event, but on Wednesday one after the other they announced their retirement.
"Our homeland is more important than anything else, we appreciate the vigor and beauty of our cultural heritage," said the management of Wang Junkai, a popular singer in the TFBoys children's band, when they announced their retirement. "I love my motherland," actor Li Bingbing told his 42 million fans on Weibo.
Chinese state media later said that the event was canceled, and reports circulated that the label was forced to withdraw the event by local authorities.
Even the Chinese Communist Youth League entered the fray, posting on Weibo that "foreign companies operating in China must respect China and respect the Chinese."
Actor Talu Wang also tweeted on Weibo: "Respect is more important than anything else."
Dolce & Gabbana has been contacted for comments. The label stated that his account and that of Gabbana had been hacked and that his legal office was "investigating urgently".
"We regret the problems caused by these unauthorized publications, we have nothing but respect for China and the people of China," the company said on Instagram.
This is not the first time that the brand has been involved in a public protest of this scale. In April 2017, he published a campaign on Weibo that described Beijing as an underdeveloped city. The post was deleted after the complaints.
In 2015, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were attacked. to call children born by "synthetic" IVF, adding that they opposed gay adoption and that IVF pregnancies were "chemical descendants and rented uterus". Dolce apologized later.
In 2012, Dolce & Gabbana was accused of appropriating racist images after it sent models down the runway with slopes reminiscent of Blackamoor's artwork, which has been denounced in the past for romanticizing the slave trade.
The agency France-Presse contributed to this report.