For the past two years, Dolce & Gabbana has featured millennial social media influencers in their Spring-Summer runway show. It's clear that the brand is trying to tap into a youthful, fresh, counter-cultural energy, and last week at the Men's Fashion Week in Milan they featured Atlanta-based soul singer Raury who provided exactly that.
Leading up to the show, D&G had been taking heat for dressing Melania Trump, and had responded to the criticism with a tongue-in-cheek campaign dubbed “Boycott Dolce & Gabbana,” featuring T-shirts bearing the slogan and a commercial in which kids joyously “protested” Dolce & Gabbana with its namesakes Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
Raury didn't take too kindly to having the concept of boycotting trivialized in such a way, and during the show's finale the young artist removed his Dolce & Gabbana jacket to show the words "PROTEST," "DG GIVE ME FREEDOM," and "I AM NOT YOUR SCAPEGOAT" scrawled across his chest. He immediately left the show afterwards, refusing to join the rest of the models for photos.
photo via Antonio Calanni/AP
"The 'Boycott Dolce & Gabbana' T-shirt they created completely makes a mockery of what 'boycotting' is," Raury told GQ afterwards. "Boycotting is the people’s voice. A protest is the people’s voice. It has power. It changes things."
But this hypocritical push to capitalize on the rebellious energy of millennials while simultaneously mocking or squelching actual resistance in action is not unique to D&G. Professional sports leagues today regularly herald past acts of protest by figures like Muhammad Ali, who famously protested the Vietnam War, but this support and recognition was virtually nonexistent when it was needed.
This duplicity is also why the NFL can call itself home to rapists, racists and all other forms of abusers, but Colin Kaepernick has been effectively pushed out of the league for kneeling during the national anthem.
Taking a stand and being outspoken are great concepts in theory, but actually threatening the system that makes an organization money is a no-go. This is the hypocrisy of capitalism.