Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada is raising funds on GoFundMe to defend itself against a defamation lawsuit from Dolce & Gabbana.
The legal battle stems from a series of ads released by the fashion house in 2018, which featured an Asian model “struggling” to eat Italian food with chopsticks.
The ads were part of Dolce & Gabbana’s China campaign. Soon after their launch, Diet Prada criticized the brand for “painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of a people lacking refinement or culture.”
“#DGlovesChina? More like #DGdesperateforthatChineseRMB lol,” the Instagram watchdog wrote at the time.
Aside from the questionable ads, Diet Prada also exposed a disturbing conversation between founder Stefano Gabbana and an Instagram user. In it, Gabbana called China “the country of sh*t.”
Dolce & Gabbana immediately faced a heavy backlash. Chinese celebrities began dropping out of an upcoming show in Shanghai, resulting in its cancellation.
In the wake of Diet Prada’s exposé, Dolce & Gabbana released a statement announcing that its Instagram page — as well as Gabbana’s — had been hacked. An internal investigation was reportedly conducted.
“We are very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China,” the label said.
However, many refused to believe the company’s claims. The outrage took a turn for the worse, involving industry professionals and other Chinese personalities.
But the situation seemed far from over. In early 2019, Dolce & Gabbana reportedly filed a defamation lawsuit against Diet Prada, seeking 4 million euros ($4.7 million) in damages (3 million euros for the brand and 1 million euro for Gabbana).
“With so much anti-Asian hate spreading in the U.S., it feels wrong to continue to remain silent about a lawsuit that threatens our freedom of speech. We are a small company co-founded by a person of color, trying to speak out against racism in our own community,” Diet Prada wrote in a new post.
Fashion Law Institute, a nonprofit based at Fordham Law School, is reportedly coordinating Diet Prada’s defense through its pro bono clinic. It is also collaborating with Italian law firm AMSL Avvocati, which “graciously agreed” to represent the defendant at a reduced rate.
Diet Prada filed its defense on Monday. The watchdog is now asking the public for financial help through a GoFundMe page.
“We need your help more than ever to raise funds to cover law firm costs, filing fees, and other legal expenses,” Diet Prada wrote. “Going up against a large luxury brand is daunting, but your contribution means we can continue protecting our fundamental rights, but also preserve what is so special about the Diet Prada community.”