Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana is in hot water after a pair of shoes listed on their online boutique as “slave sandal in napa leather with pompoms”. Priced at £1,350, the shoes are decorated with multi-coloured pompoms, mirrors and gold trimming.
Quite why the brand called the “slave sandal” remains unknown, though Footwear News suggested that the term is “a description for a particular lace-up shoe silhouette”, one which is now obsolete thanks to the less morally erroneous description “gladiator sandals”. Following a backlash on social media, the shoes have been relisted as “decorative flat sandal in napa leather with pompoms”.
In 2010, Vogue Italia sparked a similar controversy after it published a feature on “slave earrings”. A gallery of several different styles of hoop earrings were accompanied by some text which referred to the “decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade”. More recently, Valentino received criticism over its “wild, tribal Africa”-inspired SS16 show which saw a cast of predominantly white models come down the catwalk in cornrows, to the sound of bongos.
We reached out to Dolce & Gabbana who declined to comment.