The internet was atwitter this past month when reports broke of protestors gathering around Dolce & Gabbana’s Hong Kong flagship over alleged discrimination. Early this morning (circa 3 am EST or 4pm HKT, to be specific) representatives of the luxe Italian clothing brand issued a rather half-hearted apology, but is it enough?
The trouble started when the store apparently forbade Hong Kong locals from taking photographs of the displays while the same activity by China mainlanders and tourists was allowed without retribution. As a result, several protestors rebelled against the discriminatory actions of the boutique, occupying the street outside the Hong Kong location, while over 13,000 lent support on Facebook, all demanding an apology.
Well, it came, early this morning in a statement sent out to press, Dolce & Gabbana issued the following statement:
“We understand that the events which unfolded in front of the Dolce & Gabbana boutique on Canton Road have offended the citizens of Hong Kong, and for this we are truly sorry and we apologise.”
I suppose it’s wrong to turn up one’s nose at an apology, but it clearly leaves out any kind of explanation for the staff’s actions. Was it a case of “mainlandism,” a bias towards Chinese citizens hailing from the continent and not the island, or simply a general discrimination towards those who appeared less wealthy? Or both?
While I couldn’t locate the “official” Facebook page of the movement (and it seemed, neither could any other news source since it’s never linked in the coverage), people have been vocally active on the company’s official page, both in opposing the Hong Kong store’s actions as well as disregarding the apology issued today. One woman, named Cindy Chow, didn’t think the PR-ready statement was enough:
“We are not idiots. We fully understand your purpose of your ‘apology.’ You don’t really care about HK people. You just don’t want to lose the turnover from the mainland Chinese tourist during the Lunar New Year holiday.”
It’s rather upsetting to witness discrimination of any kind, as much as it is to hear a half-hearted apology meant to mitigate a public relations disaster. Unfortunately the situation reeks of prejudice, and it’s not something that a simple apology will amend.