Investigating why one of fashion’s most controversial brands doesn’t seem to be dead quite yet. With special guests Shawn Mendes & Game of Thrones.
Shawn Mendes, with six nominations at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, was not a star to miss on the red carpet. Proceeding the awards show, paparazzi shots flooded social media pages as Mendes was frequently declared a “best-dressed” figure, despite the controversial designer behind his look. Yes, it’s true, Shawn Mendes rolled up to the VMAs in a well-tailored, emerald-colored suit made by…Dolce and Gabbana.
Just when we thought Stefano Gabbana’s homophobic, racist, and sexist controversies would kill Dolce & Gabbana once and for all, pop music’s top pretty-boy sensation emerged on the red carpet sporting one of their designs. This particular pairing is of intrigue since celebrities have vocally boycotted the brand for its designer’s distasteful remarks, with absolutely no one wearing Dolce & Gabbana at the most recent Oscars. I mean, who could support a brand which publicly body-shamed Lady Gaga, and who is literally shunned in all of China?
So, last night Mendes won the hearts of millions of teenaged girls in a Gabbana suit. Why? Naturally, and because I had nothing better to do, I turned to data for the answer.
My new favorite toy, Google Trends, has much to say about this issue. As predicted, searches for fashion company “Dolce and Gabbana” have seen a significant decline in popularity over the past decade, with an increase in controversies seemingly leading to a decrease in consumer interest.
However, it looks like things could be taking a sudden turn.
What’s that? This past year, interest in Dolce and Gabbana has…increased?
Well, Google Trends tells us that consumers might actually only be interested in one sole aspect of the brand: its fragrances. In fact, the most popular related queries to Dolce and Gabbana are regarding its perfumes, notably “The One” and “Light Blue”. Although, it is difficult to tell if people are actually interested in the fragrances themselves, or solely the fact that their spokespeople are handsome stars from Game of Thrones. Nice marketing scheme, Stefano.
However, when I narrow down search queries to solely those made through Google News, I find the most popular related topic to Dolce and Gabbana is “racism”. Oof. Clearly, the designer’s controversies still linger…so why are its fragrances thriving?
Let’s turn back to Game of Thrones, whose actors Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke have been seen on the latest campaigns for D&G’s Light Blue. Over the past twelve months, search queries for Harington and Clarke have been, on average, 12% and 19% higher (respectively) than queries for the fragrance they so proudly promote. Thus, traffic could likely be reaching Dolce and Gabbana through search queries for GOT actors, or general hype surrounding Game of Thrones.
Because the first thing I learned in Introduction to Statistics was that “cOrReLaTiOn dOeS nOt EqUaL cAuSaTiOn”, no single assumption can be made here. However, this data could indicate the power of celebrity collaborations for brands, not only with regards to traffic redirection, but also as a means to ignite consumer interest in a product.
Regardless and for whatever reason, the people’s interest in Dolce and Gabbana is increasing. It is unlikely that Mendes ran data analytics before deciding whose suit to sport at the VMAs, but he could be onto something here. Could using notably liberal celebrities to revamp old fragrance campaigns and rock (too-tight) suits on the red carpet be the brand’s way of repositioning and re-introducing itself to the world? Or, could this all be one elaborate marketing scheme?
Shawn Mendes, you’ll look good in just about anything you wear. Was Dolce and Gabbana really a good option? Data tells us, yeah, perhaps it might have been.
All data was obtained from publicly accessible Google Trends information.
Writing about data & fashion is something I now do for fun. If you are working on any related projects, I would love to hear from you!