Dolce & Gabbana finds itself at the center of controversy once again — this time, for a sneaker from its fall '17 collection which is being accused of equating beauty with thinness.
As you probably saw (most likely, and fittingly, on Instagram), the Italian label's latest ready-to-wear collection was millennial-themed (and -cast). The runway was sprinkled with homages to the generation Dolce & Gabbana was courting: letterman jackets, graphic logo T-shirts, Justin Bieber merch, and DIY-look sneakers. And while the latter was meant to harken back to a time when we personalizing our kicks with colorful pens and cheeky sayings, one of the luxury brand's fall '17 slogans is missing the mark among D&G fans, Yahoo Style reports.
The white leather shoe in question, recently highlighted in Vogue Paris, is scribbled over with phrases like "I Love Pizza Pasta," "Sorry But I Want More Of You," and "So Fab." Most noticeably, though, there's "I'm Thin & Gorgeous," written in blue ink across the side of the sneaker, which stands out in a drawing of the style that designer Stefano Gabbana reposted to Instagram, from illustrator Jumpei Kawamura.
He didn't add any additional commentary to the image, but as Yahoo Style noted, many began to jump in the comments section to address what they considered a problematic implication of that slogan.
Most of the initial reactions on Gabbana's post were glowing, with hearts and comments including the liberal usage of "need," and "love." However, some fans began questioning the message of the slogan, asking the designer, in both Italian and in English: "Why do you insist on the concept of 'thin'?," and "You don't think it's a little [irresponsible] to push a message of 'thin and gorgeous'?" While Gabbana himself has yet to personally respond to these comments (something he's done in the past), fans of the shoe have begun a discussion with detractors, insisting that the sneaker was meant to be interpreted with a sense of humor and that the idea that the slogan insinuates that only the thin are gorgeous or vice versa is simply a misinterpretation.
However, Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, insists that there's a deeper issue with this Dolce & Gabbana design: "Though there may be an element of cheeky humor at play in the design of these sneakers, equating thinness and beauty with success and status is a message that hurts everyone," she told Yahoo Style. She noted that this is a particularly big issue in the fashion industry, which has historically pushed forward a sample-sized ideal of beauty — a concern that's been top of mind for designers, models, editors, and influencers in the past few seasons, but still hasn't necessarily resulted in inclusive optics. "From billboards to social media, we live in a media-saturated environment that shapes how we see ourselves and others," Mysko added. "When the prevailing message is thin is good, gorgeous is good, that becomes our priority, often at the expense of our health and well-being."
This contentious shoe style arrives a bit over a year after Dolce & Gabbana caught a lot of heat for marketing a $2,395 pair of shoes as "slave sandals." (The style was promptly renamed following the backlash.) More recently — and on a more personal note — Gabbana took to Instagram to apologize for body-shaming Lady Gaga after her Super Bowl halftime performance. As far as what the designer thinks of the debate going down in the comments section of his Instagram profile, though? Judging from his bio, odds are he's not particularly concerned: "WHO DOES NOT LOVE MY PROFILE PLEASE UNFOLLOW ME ❤," it reads. Noted.
We've reached out to Dolce & Gabbana for comment and will update our story when we hear back.