BEIJING – The co-founders of Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana apologized on Friday after a row over a video advertisement in China.
The controversy has affected the company’s sales in China and forced the firm to cancel a show in Shanghai.
The video in question showed a Chinese woman struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks, in a depiction considered racist by many in China.
“We offer our deepest apologies to all Chinese people around the world,” designer Stefano Gabbana said in a video posted on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, in which he appeared along with co-founder Domenico Dolce.
In the one and half minute video, Gabbana and Dolce sat solemnly in front of the camera and said they had “seriously reflected” on the issue and were sorry for the damage the incident had caused.
“In our family, we have been taught to respect the diversity of all cultures of the world, and we apologize if we have committed the error of misinterpreting yours,” Gabbana said in Italian in the video with English and Chinese subtitles.
“We love the Chinese culture, we have visited the country many times,” the designer said, adding that they would never forget the lesson learned “this time.”
The crisis for the brand showed no signs of subsiding on Friday, with its products being removed from major Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, JD.com and Amazon China.
Retailer Lane Crawford said on Friday it was withdrawing the brand from its stores and online platforms in China after clients returned articles made by the Italian manufacturer.
Some users of Sina Weibo posted images of people throwing away Dolce & Gabbana products and shop employees removing their articles.
The fashion show, which was supposed to take place on Nov. 21, had to be cancelled as a number of models refused to participate after alleged private Instagram messages of Gabbana surfaced, with offensive references to China.
The designer denied he had written the messages, claiming his account had been hacked. The company later issued a statement cancelling the show, which it had called “a tribute event dedicated to China.”
The case has led to widespread outrage in China, although foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Thursday that it was not a diplomatic matter and China did not want the issue to escalate.