Luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana fell 140 places in this year’s Asia’s Top 1000 Brands ranking.
The drop, from position 360 last year to 500 this year, which is one of the biggest falls overall in the 2019 list, suggests a shift in Asian consumers’ sentiments about the brand, possibly not surprising considering its China faux pas last year.
Even as recently as March this year, D&G was still reported to be suffering from the backlash to a November marketing video released in the mainland, which was deemed “racist” and was followed up by an outpouring of insults against the Chinese by founder Stefano Gabbana on social media.
Both Gabbana and Domenico Dolce released an apology video in Chinese on Weibo, but this appeared to do little to mitigate the damage.
The brand didn’t show up at the usual fashion weeks, and it still isn’t featured on Alibaba’s Tmall, JD.com or Lane Crawford. Even the model who was featured in the offending video said afterward that the response to it “practically ruined” her career.
It may be two or three years before the brand can reset its China strategy, Terence Chu suggested in an exclusive interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific in January. The founder of the experiential agency Apax Group, which helped organize D&G’s ‘Great Show’ fashion project, which had to be canceled following the outcry in China, said the message to be learned from the controversy was that “no matter where we come from, the world is getting smaller.”
Asia’s Top 1000 Brand ranking provides concrete evidence of D&G’s recent fall from grace. The brand dropped four places in the overall luxury category, to 19th position this year, and also lost positioning in the luxury category in 12 out of 14 Asia Pacific markets, with the two exclusions being the Philippines, where it remained in the same position as in 2018 (13th), and Indonesia, where the brand managed a six-point rise from 15th to ninth place.
In China, which ranks its top three luxury brands like Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton, D&G lost three spots, falling from 17th to 14th place. In Hong Kong the drop was even greater; the brand sank 10 whole places from 12th to 22nd.
Can the brand recover next year? It will depend on consumers’ memories—and D&G’s ability to prove it has a firmer, more sensitive grasp of local sentiments.