Wrath over a controversial ad campaign from Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) continues to rage on, in another instance that highlights the need for cultural and political sensitivity among those aiming to cash in on the Chinese consumer. His company is now suffering that same fate, with online platforms promptly removing its products and upscale Hong Kong store Lane Crawford following suit in its shops.
They include three e-commerce giants Tmall, JD and Suning, cross-border e-commerce platforms NetEase Kaola and Ymatou, luxury e-commerce companies Secoo and Vip.com, and Yhd.com.
Ryan Meng, a Paris-based fashion buyer for Chinese boutiques, was one of many to joke online that D&G now stood for "dead and gone" following the incident.
But the backlash has continued as retailers in China retreated from the brand.
"We have always been in love with China", Dolce said, according to a translation.
Users slammed the video campaign, in which a Chinese woman struggles to eat pizza and pasta with chopsticks while the narrator offers eating lessons in a tone many have found offensive.
The matter was exacerbated when screencaps emerged and circulated the internet showing a conversation between co-founder Stefano Gabbana and fashion writer Michaela Phuong where the former allegedly insulted China as "the country of [poop emojis]".
Meanwhile, the co-founders of the brand Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana also posted a Facebook statement saying that its dream was to bring to Shanghai a tribute event dedicated to China which tells D&G's history and vision.
The company had previously apologised to "China and the Chinese people" and expressed regret that its Shanghai event had been cancelled, while Gabbana claimed that his Instagram account had been hacked.
"It's not convincing enough to shift the blame to hacking", said a public relations specialist who requested anonymity. We take this apology very seriously as well as this message.
State media outlets have joined the chorus of condemnation.
"It is inflicting humiliation on itself ..."
Meanwhile, Datin Sri Lara Hussein, CEO, M&C Saatchi Malaysia said that she personally felt "totally outraged" Dolce & Gabbana's ad especially given it is an iconic Brand that celebrates women and femininity. The post has received more than 80,000 likes and 5,200 comments.
Chinese model and actress Zhang Ziyi slammed the brand on her account with her management later confirming that she would not be attending the show and that, along with her team, she would never be using or buying from Dolce & Gabbana again.
According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Chinese consumers spent over $100 billion on luxury purchases past year - one-third of the global total.
This is not the first time that D&G hit the nerve of the Chinese population.
But a corruption crackdown under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party's top leader, has put the brakes on conspicuous consumption, so the brands must be wary of a yawning wealth gap that has developed in China.