Blogger duo sued by Dolce&Gabbana after calling out the brand for racist content and comments
Magazine Reporter Tamara Kanuchova examines the most recent Dolce & Gabbana controversy and highlights the role of Instagram account Diet Prada in calling out the fashion industry’s problematic practices.
Dolce & Gabbana, hereinafter referred to as D&G, recently filed a defamation lawsuit against two American bloggers, threatening freedom of speech on social media.
The Italian company is demanding almost 600 million dollars to compensate for the damage inflicted upon its reputation. The situation commenced when the two bloggers called out a controversial D&G commercial for mocking Asian culture, as well as anti-Asian comments made by one of the brand’s creative directors. Companies across all industries are increasingly being judged by their social responsibility and values. D&G’s poor response towards the accusations has widely affected public opinion towards the company, particularly that of Gen Z.
The Instagram account Diet Prada has been labelled the watchdog of the fashion world. Fashion historian Bronwyn Cosgrave even referred to them as “the Banksy of fashion”. Run by Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler, it has established itself as a prominent critique of unoriginal designs and social issues in the fashion industry. Their 2.7 million following, at the time of writing, includes several supermodels, such as Naomi Campbell, Bella Hadid and designers Pierpaolo Piccioli (Valentino) and Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior).
D&G faced its first major backlash in 2018 after diffusing a culturally insensitive video to promote a show in Shanghai. The video depicted models attempting and failing to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks. Diet Prada also called out D&G by posting screenshots of a private conversation in which one of the brand’s designers made insulting comments. The issue resulted in public outrage, with the trending #boycottdolce hashtag plastered all over social media. Many public figures from China withdrew their support for the brand and the show in Shanghai was subsequently cancelled. Although Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana later issued an apology, their reputation has been significantly compromised, with many customers withdrawing their trust.
Although the lawsuit was filed in 2019, Diet Prada only released information on the controversies recently. The account-holders chose to do so in light of the current situation in the United States and the importance of defending free speech. Both of the bloggers believe social issues should be more prioritized by compagnies, especially the fashion sector. They have expressed support for the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter and have previously addressed Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric during the pandemic. This last issue is what urged them to break their silence about the lawsuit and side with the Asian community. Diet Prada has created a GoFundMe page to cover the legal defense which is provided partially by a pro bono clinic and an Italian defense firm for reduced costs. They have raised over 50 000 dollars up to date.
Nowadays, anyone with a social media account has the power to fulfill a watchdog role that was traditionally held by journalists. For now, we can only hope that Diet Prada will not be silenced by the outcome of this case in a time where freedom of speech is increasingly threatened, and that the modern-day watchdog function will be preserved.
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