Dolce and Gabbana has filed a defamation lawsuit against two fashion bloggers who reposted anti-Asian comments attributed to one of the designers.
The Italian fashion house is seeking over $600m (£434m) in damages after the post led to a boycott of the company by Asian consumers.
Bloggers Diet Prada had posted a screenshot of messages allegedly sent by designer Stefano Gabbana in 2018 which made racist comments about China, causing a backlash that led to retailers in the Asia market pulling the brand’s products from their shelves and celebrities disassociating from the company.
The lawsuit was filed in a Milan civil court in 2019 but only became public this week when the bloggers – Tony Liu and Lindsay Schulyer – posted about it on their Instagram account.
“This whole case is a way of trying to silence Diet Prada, and to silence Tony and Lindsay personally,” said Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, which is co-ordinating the bloggers’ defence.
The brand had already caused controversy earlier in 2018 by releasing a series of videos ahead of a Shanghai runway show featuring a Chinese model attempting to eat Italian foods with chopsticks.
After being labelled as culturally insensitive, the videos were taken down.
The Shanghai show was cancelled in the backlash and numerous Asian VIPs disavowed the brand.
Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana initially said Mr Gabbana’s account had been hacked, before appearing in a video apologising to the Chinese people.
Image: Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
The fashion house is seeking €450m (£387m) spent on restoring the brand image since 2018 and damages of €3m (£2.6m) for the company, as well as €1m (£861,000) for Mr Gabbana.
It also seeks more than €8.6m (£7.4m) for the cancellation of the Shanghai show, another €8.6m for staff expenditures and €89.6m (£77.1m) for lost Asian sales between November 2018 and March 2019.
Since going public about the lawsuit, Diet Prada has raised more than $38,000 (£27,400) for its defence.
Mr Liu and Ms Schulyer said in a statement they will not allow their platform – which has over 2.5 million Instagram followers – to be silenced by lawsuits.
Source : Sky News