When Melania Trump officially moved into the White House on Monday, she was dressed in a Dolce & Gabbana top. When she visited the pope last month, she donned a conservative black lace dress and veil made by Dolce & Gabbana. When she arrived in Sicily for a meeting with the spouses of several European leaders, she stepped out in $51,000 jacket designed by, you guessed it, Dolce & Gabbana.
While several designers have maintained the public stances they took against dressing her in the immediate aftermath of the election, Dolce & Gabbana is embracing Melania Trump — and trying to co-opt the backlash against it.
On Friday, the luxury brand shared a series of images and videos on its social media accounts, depicting what appeared to be a protest, with participants wearing shirts emblazoned with “Boycott Dolce & Gabbana.” Dolce & Gabbana CEO Stefano Gabbana also shared several photos of the boycott shirts to his Instagram account, which are now available for sale on the company’s website for $245. There are currently more than 4,000 posts on Instagram using the hashtag #boycottdolcegabbana.
A post by Dolce & Gabbana announcing the #BoycottDolceGabbana campaign.
While messaging around the campaign is vague, with no claim of serving as a response to the Melania Trump controversy, the campaign appeared to be a pointed message to consumers that have actively boycotted the brand. The comment section of the posts quickly became the breeding ground for debate as the effort gained traction over the weekend, with fans of the brand applauding it as “brilliant,” while opponents expressed discontent in its support of Trump.
“You guys think you’re so clever, but doubling down on your stupidity only makes things worse. You should own up to your mistakes,” wrote one user.
Another wrote: “I’m on the side of Dolce and Gabbana and their right to sell what they want to whom they want! They are using the hashtag #boycott to make a statement against those idiots who are boycotting them. I know the politics of it. Just because I support Dolce and Gabbana doesn’t mean I’m prejudiced.”
As of Monday afternoon, the boycott had more than 300 mentions on Twitter, of which an overwhelming 81.4 percent were negative in sentiment, according to Brandwatch. “You’d expect that sort of sentiment, given the fact that ‘boycott’ is in each hashtag and interpreted as negative. The satirical aspect gets muddled in the results,” said Kellan Terry, senior data analyst at Brandwatch.
The boycott campaign may hold deeper ties, as Luxury Daily noted, harkening back to years’ worth of outcry against outspoken comments made by Gabbana and controversy over distasteful products. In 2016, the brand debuted a shoe it called the “slave sandal” and recently showed a sneaker with the inscription “I’m thin & gorgeous,” following complaints that the brand only used dangerously thin models on the runway. Gabbana’s responded to this on Instagram with a caption that read “u think is better to be fat full of hamburger??? Stupid.”
Still, the timing in the wake of Dolce & Gabbana becoming a designer of choice for Melania Trump is telling. Though designers like Joseph Altuzarra have made statements claiming they won’t discriminate on the basis of politics — “I don’t want to not dress people I disagree with,” he told The New York Times — others like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren continue to stay mum about lending their styling to the First Lady. (Neither responded to a request for comment for this story.)