Argentinian football star Lionel Messi was snapped in Barcelona wearing a Dolce & Gabbana t-shirt that sparked controversy in China this winter, prompting a wave of angry comments over its design. As the international gossip outlet TMZ reports, the FC Barcelona striker wore the red piggy shirt, sold for about $500 each, when he arrived in the Catalan capital with his family.
It is unclear whether the footballer is aware of the story behind this seemingly regular piece of clothing, which brought accusations of exploiting Asian culture upon the prominent Italian fashion house this February.
The Italian fashion house produced five t-shirts, ranging from $440 to $590, embossed with a cartoon pig, a D&G logo and a wad of money to celebrate the Lunar New Year. As several reports and social media posts suggested, while some mocked the pricing and designs, others even suggested that the fashion house sees the Chinese market as “pigs with money”.
Lionel Messi Rocks $500 Shirt that Sparked Chinese Outrage This little piggy ... is putting Lionel Messi in the middle of a huge controversy involving Dolce & Gabbana and the country of China!!!! The soccer superstar was r... https://t.co/VFUJ32mCFk #lifestyle #cosmetics #beauty pic.twitter.com/3K9Iaj1VeM— CelebStarzNews (@CelebStarzNews) July 26, 2019
The new uproar only fuelled the controversy around the house in this Asian country, triggered by the D&G ad campaign and alleged anti-Chinese rant by one of its founders Stefano Gabbana in November 2018.
The videos were meant to promote “The Great Show”, billed by the famed fashion house as a “tribute to China”. However, the video was perceived as patronising, with the narrator advising “not to use chopsticks as knives”, but instead handle them “like pliers”.
The tone was quickly picked up on social media, drawing loads of criticism over it sounding “racist”. It allegedly prompted Gabbana to label China a "country of sh*t" with an "ignorant dirty smelling mafia", in direct messages, which were later made public. Although Gabbana himself denied writing these, claiming his account had been hacked, the exchange had already caused a massive outcry by the time.