Dolce & Gabbana asks for forgiveness after Chinese racism furore

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Dolce & Gabbana is in yet another mess and it just might be their biggest one yet.

It is not the first time Dolce & Gabbana has drawn controversy.

A video posted on Weibo Monday of a Chinese model attempting to eat Italian food with chopsticks was taken down after less than 24 hours, but widely shared on both Chinese social media platforms and Instagram.

Instagram is in China due to the authoritarian government's iron-fisted Internet censorship - the regime grew concerned about Instagram after it figured prominently in 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong - but Chinese users had no problem seeing the chopsticks ad. They finish the video by saying "sorry" in Chinese.

While the controversy could hurt their business, the long-term impact will depend on how Dolce & Gabbana deal with the fallout. Chinese celebrities pitched in with denunciations of the company's insensitivity, including one of the Chinese actresses best known to Western movie audiences, Zhang Ziyi of fame.

Stefano has denied that the messages were from him, stating that his account was hacked. Gabbana made his statement on the controversy by posting a screen capture of his alleged racist messages with the words "NOT ME" emblazoned over them in giant red block letters.

The scandal caused the brand to be pulled from a fashion event at the Shanghai Expo Centre.

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But the backlash has continued as retailers in China retreated from the brand. Security guards and police officers have been stationed outside Dolce & Gabbana stores in Beijing and Shanghai.

"With respect to our customers, we have removed the brand from all stores in mainland China, online and in Hong Kong", Lane Crawford President Andrew Keith said in a statement.

Their apology still didn't sit well with a lot of internet users with lots of models pulling out from the show and openly giving the brand the middle finger on social media.

The incident can still be taken as a demonstration of how quickly Chinese markets can be shuttered to foreign companies, whether Beijing orders the outrage or merely indulges it.

"They want a brand that knows them, that makes them feel that they are important", Ms Ma said.

According to Bain & Company's latest report on the luxury market, Chinese consumers account for an estimated 33 percent of global luxury goods spend, a share that is likely to hit 46 percent by 2025. Offend them at your peril.

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