Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana is in hot water after releasing a series of China-themed promotional photos, which have been criticized by some Chinese netizens as a nothing more than a display of Western stereotypes and ignorance.
The controversial pictures, which were released and later removed by the company on its Sina Weibo page, included not only professional models, but also ordinary Chinese people, such as cyclists and street vendors. In addition to featuring some iconic tourist sites in Beijing, including Tiananmen Square and traditional hutongs, the photos also displayed scenes from ordinary citizens’ lives - for instance, crowded markets and small shops.
“The pictures are so absurd. From the perspective of Dolce & Gabbana, China is filled with bikes, old ladies in rags and rude tourists. Thanks to China’s fast development, the country now has so many modern things to offer the world, but the Chinese people and buildings in the photos all look quite 1990s,” Zeng Yuan, a Nanjing-based fashion designer, told the People’s Daily Online.
Zeng’s opinion is shared by many Chinese citizens. The hashtag “DGLovesChina,” which is the title of the series of images in question, had garnered over 680,000 page views on Sina Weibo as of press time, with many internet users calling the photos outdated and biased.
“I saw Dolce & Gabbana’s Japan-themed promo photos, which included ordinary Japanese people, all young and wearing modern clothing. I guess in the eyes of the photographers, Japan represents taste and wealth, while China represents vulgarity and poverty,” said one netizen on Sina Weibo.
But others disagreed, accusing critics of being “too sensitive.”
“I see no reason to raise the discrimination flag in this case. Maybe for the company, the beauty of China lies in the most primitive scenes and the most ordinary people; we should respect this opinion. Chinese people should build up more cultural self-confidence,” another netizen wrote.