When Fashion Misses The Mark: Dolce & Gabbana’s China Campaign
A lot of people think that fashion is not connected to anything. I personally have come across people that think that fashion is just banal and laughable; and perhaps something nobody should spend a lot of time thinking or talking about because well, “life is happening outside of it”. Truth is, fashion is one of the few industries in charge of truly reflecting what is happening in our society and above all, the first one to predict what is going to happen before we even see it in front of our eyes. As a result, fashion is a very delicate industry and the people that work inside of it have to be very careful with the information they manage in order to reflect it artistically. Three days ago, Dolce & Gabbana released their new campaign called “DG loves China” as a marketing strategy because the brand is soon presenting a fashion show in Shanghai. The reaction to this campaign has been so far the controversy of the month (probably in line with the one from Victoria’s Secret show) and a clear example of how important it is to know your consumer target, but in the broader sense, just stay informed beyond pretty clothes.
Now if you are someone who is constantly in touch with what is happening in the fashion industry, you must know by now that Dolce & Gabbana is not only famous because of the creative minds of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, but you must also know that the brand is also known for being the antithesis of what is considered “politically correct” in a way that they have had a few entertaining (because they were) episodes of creating a huge viral buzz in social media. Mainly both designers have a history of having shared their brutally honest opinions regarding some delicate topics happening now in our society such as their disapproval of the #MeToo feminist movement, their opinion regarding IVF calling babies from the same sex relationships “synthetic” and openly establishing a very close bond with Melania Trump in times where she was not being precisely appreciated in the US.
Moreover, Stefano Gabbana particularly (let's not forget the famous hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana), is known for being one of the most reactive designers on social media for how he openly accused in the past brands such as Moschino or Gucci for copying him, or how he has (or had?) the habit of posting rude comments criticizing some celebrities’ photos on Instagram. Moreover, the brand has also been criticized for their unique marketing strategy of overly using influencers to create engagement to the point of inviting them to model for them during Fashion Week taking away jobs that corresponded to actual models.
Going back to what recently happened, the people that made the campaign for China was the marketing department of the brand. Let’s not forget that every fashion brand is also a business, so the clothes are fantastic and all, but someone has to come up with an idea of how to grab people’s attention because the brand has to sell. According to a report by LinkShop, “the Asian Pacific region made up more than 30 percent of Dolce & Gabbana’s market share in 2016”. This means that D&G can’t afford to lose Asian clients, which in reality means that they have to keep attracting them no matter the cost. Knowing that this is a fact, the rational thing to do for any person working for Dolce & Gabbana’s marketing department is to at least study a little bit about how the Chinese market works, and not only their buying behavior but also try to understand their culture and traditions. The least you can do for your most valuable client is to get in contact with who they are, especially if you are selling them clothes. You can’t launch a fashion campaign representing a billion dollar company if the only thing you can come up with regarding China is chopsticks and how they eat food. There is nothing more shameful than people who these days still live by stereotypes but it is even more baffling to realize that some of those people might be representing Dolce & Gabbana.
All in all, part of what the brand’s reputation is today can be attributed not only to the aesthetic of the Dolce & Gabbana pieces but also to the personalities of the two celebrity designers and the people that work for that brand. Out there on the internet, you will easily find thousands of tips on how to be successful in any job position in the fashion industry and access to all the information you can imagine. But the reality today is that unfortunately some of the people that work inside of fashion usually miss the mark for staying uninformed and that, which like in any type of company, could potentially damage future sales. More importantly, working in fashion has got to mean a higher responsibility because it is the mirror of our world’s situation and in the case of Dolce & Gabbana in China right now, they are holding the image of Italian people.
Fashion has no space for outdated mindsets anymore.