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  • Brianna Pham

2 Awful Fashion Marketing Moves

December 3rd, 2021

By Brianna Pham

It’s the holidays: the best time to reflect on consumerism. Whether it’s a new coat for the New York winter or the Black Friday markdown on shoes you don’t need, you have likely experienced the magnetic pull of massive brands. Successful marketing has buyers clicking “Check out” all over the world.

This power goes both ways, though. Sometimes, fashion powerhouses mess up. Badly.

Let’s look at a few examples of terrible marketing moves that are worthy of a return request - and a few lawsuits - this season.

Source: Dolce & Gabbana

1. Dolce & Gabbana’s Proud Declaration of Xenophobia

In 2018, a D&G advertisement depicting Chinese women eating Italian food with chopsticks went live on Weibo. It immediately sparked outrage: patronizing voiceovers and mockery of Chinese pronunciation composed this act of blatant prejudice. Fashion watchdog Diet Prada covered the controversy in detail, most notably releasing screenshots of a conversation with Stefano Gabbana himself. The direct messages, though borderline incoherent, were insidious: “China, the country of [a poop emoji]”, “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia,” and more. As a result, Chinese celebrities publicly cut ties with D&G as Weibo netizens slammed the brand.

The advertisement sprung back to mainstream attention this past summer; the rise of violence against Asian-Americans caused Diet Prada to speak up once more. The administrators of the Instagram powerhouse revealed to the public that D&G was suing them for defamation: “The lawsuit argues that we should be held responsible for lost revenue and other harm to Dolce & Gabbana and its co-founder Stefano Gabbana after we criticized their 2018 advertising campaign on Weibo for its stereotypical and sexist depiction of a Chinese woman, and revealed anti-Asian remarks originating from Gabbana’s Instagram account,” DP wrote. This only turned more people against Dolce & Gabbana.

Source: Diet Prada

As of November 25, 2021, Diet Prada has raised $65,960 for their legal defense fund.

Source: Shein

2. Shein’s Project Runway Dupe

Shein is notorious for stealing small designers’ work, so it’s no surprise that its marketers thought up a similar strategy: blatantly copying a major TV show. Guided underneath the intention of uplifting small designers, Shein’s “100k Challenge” was seen as an insult to injury.

The selling point of the show was the presence of guest judge Khloe Kardashian. This was another factor in the negative reactions Shein received; their audience claimed that Khloe was not the most fashion-informed guest and that her participation indirectly demonstrated the Kardashians’ support for fast fashion, unsustainable production, and design theft. As the Kardashian family has been heavily criticized for their carbon footprint, this marketing move was one of the most incendiary ones in 2021.


Brianna is a freshman studying Business & Political Economy participating in MktSoc's Fall 2021 Blog Writer Program. She's from Irvine, California, and loves anything that gets her adrenaline pumping! Brianna wrote this to experiment with a new style of writing while exploring her passion for fashion.

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