Every time I come across a scandal in fashion that involves a racist or gesture, I note that there is a standardized processing pattern. It usually starts off with general disgust and ends up being just another case that eventually gets forgotten about.
Perhaps this is because we are so overwhelmed with information from media everywhere that even if we wanted to maintain our frustration new issues just keep popping up that refresh the outrage.
Earlier in the week, I learnt of Dolce & Gabbana’s controversial new advertisement which showed a Chinese model struggling to eat a slice of pizza with chopsticks. The indignation which followed went beyond the boundaries of normal outrage.
D&G was forced to place security guards at some of their flagship stores, remove products from select stores and there was even talk about having all of their merchandise removed from the leading luxury e-tailer, Net-a-Porter. This isn’t the first time the brand has found itself in hot water though. The duo, both part of the LGBT community, once blasted the idea of gay parents having the ability to adopt and practice in-vitro fertilization, suggesting it wasn’t synthetic enough. In another instance, one of them referred to pop star Selena Gomez as ugly. These outbursts only scratch the surface of their reckless behaviour.
Why has it taken so long for retailers and consumers to lash back, more particularly retailers? Have we all of a sudden developed advanced moral compasses to do the right thing? Perhaps so, but it seems to always be conditional. The truth is that Chinese millennials drive the global luxury market. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the small fraction of the rich and famous in Hollywood or the oil-rich gulf countries. According to consulting group, Tencent and Boston, “China’s personal luxury goods market (including overseas purchases) will grow by 6 percent annually to reach $187 billion by 2024 and more than two-thirds (70%) of the growth of global luxury spending will come from China by the same year.”
Retailers reacting and even the fact that the pair issued a video apology goes to show that our moral compasses, loyalty and respect are primarily influenced by financial clout. Only those whose financial stride can affect us are the ones deserving of better treatment.
There is a bigger story to pay attention to here and it’s the way the digital age and capitalism influence our morals and priorities. They even influence what we think we like and believe to be ideal factors of happiness.
It may appear lovely that D&G released an apology and are trying to make amends, but it’s only time before another brand slips up. The question is how do we reverse this capitalist and elitist way of selecting who gets respect. It may seem frivolous but public attitudes and this particular way of thinking are easy to disseminate and become normalized especially in the current global political climate.