We’ve just about forgotten about online retailer ASOS’ “Slave” T-shirt fail, and now high-end fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has only gone and done the same thing.
It wasn’t a T-shirt this time, but a pair of statement shoes. Part of D&G’s spring/summer 2016 collection, the “Slave Sandal in Napa Leather with Pompoms” recently became available for pre-order on the Dolce & Gabbana website for £1,350, and it wasn’t long before Twitter users clocked the wildly inappropriate name and expressed their disbelief on the social networking platform.
What were they thinking?
“What possessed you to name your latest summer sandals ‘The Slave Sandal’? Wow”, commented user @FlackInTheCity, while @donafalla said, “D&G slave sandal is one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen”.
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The brand faced a similar backlash in 2012 when its spring/summer 2013 collection was accused of being offensive and racially insensitive for featuring images of dark-skinned, slave-like African women on earrings and burlap-sack frocks.
We’re beginning to suspect the Italian designers like causing trouble, as this is simply the latest of several D&G controversies, such as the ads that appeared to show “simulated gang rape”.
Then there were the views expressed by the design duo themselves last year, when they criticised same-sex families and called IVF babies “synthetic” — a move that led Elton John to call for a boycott of their collection.
According to Footwear News, “slave” was at one time a common descriptor for a lace-up shoe silhouette, but it was replaced by “gladiator” some time ago, presumably around the time people realised the idea of using the term “slave” to sell expensive footwear was pretty abhorrent.
It wasn’t long before the name of the shoe was changed to “decorative flat sandal”, and so far the brand hasn’t made any official comment about the online backlash.
Is this enough? It’s not OK to call a shoe a “Slave Sandal”, and it’s not OK to act like it didn’t happen. High-end fashion labels aren’t above admitting their mistakes and apologising.