Nor can Dolce & Gabbana easily take the safest approach to dialing down controversy: eliminating its cause.

“Dior was facing an equally awkward situation at the time of John Galliano’s antisemitic rant,” Solca notes, referring to the former Dior creative director’s public, drunken rant in 2011. “But they could come through that unscathed, as they took swift action to remove the cause of the problem.” (Galliano was summarily fired.)

At D&G, Stefano Gabbana’s name and vision are part of the brand’s identity. ”Once we will be dead, we will be dead,” he told Reuters in April when asked who might inherit the group’s fortune. He added: “I don’t want a Japanese designer to design for Dolce & Gabbana.”

Still, when speaking to WWD about the fallout (paywall), a number of sources wondered whether Gabbana could be dismissed. Even if it were possible that he might leave, who knows if the brand he helped create would ever be the same.

“There are many theories, including perhaps a division of the brand, but the results of this are unexpected and uncertain as well as difficult to put in action due to slow and complex industrial processes,” Armando Mammina, a marketing and strategic consultant based in Milan, told WWD.

Already, a number of major retailers in China have dropped the label, including Tmall,, and Secoo, which are vital to foreign brands looking to make inroads in the country. Online luxury seller Yoox Net-a-Porter removed the brand from its Chinese-language sites, while Hong Kong-based retailer Lane Crawford pulled Dolce & Gabbana from its stores and website. Chinese celebrities and KOLs, or key opinion leaders, who offer a valuable route to reaching Chinese customers, have also distanced themselves from the brand. Many were slated to attend or even take part in the giant Shanghai runway show that the offending ads were originally intended to promote.

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2018, file photo, a computer screen shows the online platforms pulling Dolce & Gabbana products from their stores displayed on a computer screen in Beijing, China, Don't mess with China - and its 770 million internet users. That's the lesson Dolce&Gabbana learned the hard way after Chinese netizens expressed their outrage at a promotional video the company made for the Chinese market and insulting comments made on Instagram, though the company blamed hackers for the latter. As retailers pulled their merchandise from shelves, co-founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana went on camera to apologize to the Chinese people. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Dolce & Gabbana is being pulled from a number of Chinese retailers.
Image: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The damage isn’t restricted to China, either. Luisa Via Roma, a retailer based in Florence, has ditched the brand. It would likely take a major gesture from Dolce & Gabbana to win back these accounts, and some shoppers may be disinclined to buy Dolce & Gabbana regardless if they feel the brand doesn’t align with their values

Perhaps the best Dolce & Gabbana can hope for is that shoppers’ Instagram-era attention spans come with equally short memories.

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