Should We Boycott Moron Clothing Designers?

Elton John is leading a boycott against Dolce & Gabbana.


I was rather bemused by the Guardian headline “Elton John and leading LGBT groups call for Dolce & Gabbana boycott.” It struck me as rather late to discover that the ubiquitous ads from the famous fashion house are replete with stereotypical homoerotic imagery. But, no, it turns out that Steffano Gabbana is simply a moron:

John and leading gay rights groups had called for the boycott as designers’ comments about fertility treatment were labelled “archaic” and “deeply insulting”.

People born through IVF were referred to as “synthetic children” and Gabbana referred to “wombs for rent”.

John, who has had two children with his husband David Furnish through IVF, said the remarks, which were made in an interview last week, were “out of step with the times”. Speaking to the Italian magazine Panorama alongside his business partner, Stefano Gabbana, the designer said children should be born to a mother and a father.

“I’m not convinced by those I call the children of chemicals, synthetic children,” he added. “Wombs for rent, sperm chosen from a catalogue … psychiatrists are not ready to confront the effects of this experimentation,” he said. Dolce, who spent more than 20 years in a relationship with Gabbana, went on to say he could not have a child because he was gay.

Speaking on Sunday, Gabbana said: “We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it.”


John became a parent, along with Furnish, in 2010 and 2013 through the use of a surrogate mother in the US.

Reacting to their interview comments, he wrote on Instagram: “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’… And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.”

He ended his note with the campaign hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana. Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said he was also supporting a D&G boycott.

He told the Guardian: “It’s quite outrageous that two gay fashion designers who have relied on the gay community for much of their success are opposing gay equality. They’re lining up with the Pope and the far right in their support for legal discrimination.”

He added: “If they don’t want to be parents that’s fine, but it’s deeply insulting to disparage the many same sex parents who have brought up children happily and successfully.”

I was 12 when Louise Brown was born and dubbed the “test tube baby,” and recall discussions about whether children born in that manner had belly buttons. But that was a long time ago and presumably most reasonably intelligent people now understand that the children conceived via IVF aren’t actually born in test tubes. Obviously, there are still people who have religious objections to human intervention in a process that they believe should be left in the hands of a supernatural being; I find that illogical but then I find much about religiosity illogical.

And, of course, IVF isn’t just for gays wanting to have kids. Indeed, that’s a really small segment of the market! My late wife and I, having gotten married and began trying to have children older than most, had our first child “naturally” but the pregnancy occurred the month after she miscarried (at a very early stage) a pregnancy resulting from a course of IVF. Our second child was conceived after a single round of a related treatment called intrauterine insemination (IUI). So, I’m hardly ambivalent about the notion that children conceived with medical help are somehow less human.

Yet, were I inclined to purchase Dolce & Gabbana’s incredibly garish and overpriced clothing, I wouldn’t stop because they have weird political beliefs—much less demand that others do so. Presumably, Gabbana has been an idiot for the entirety of the three decades that the line has been in business. I’m not sure why becoming suddenly aware that he’s an imbecile should effect my view of his clothing. It hasn’t become any more clownish just because he’s a clown.

Aside from really extreme cases—I can’t watch the Naked Gun moves anymore, since O.J. Simpson ruins them for me—I just don’t care about the politics, religion, or lifestyle of entertainers, fashion designers, athletes, and other non-decisionmakers. I had no idea until last year’s controversy that the owners of Chic-fil-A were religious nuts. That doesn’t make their fried chicken sandwiches any less delicious. Were I trapped at a food court with few other options, I’d happily eat one.  Tom Cruise and John Travolta are Scientology weirdos; I still enjoy Top Gun and Pulp Fiction.

As to the people who make my clothing, I have no clue what strange things are going through their head. Like Rhett Butler, I frankly don’t give a damn.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Popular Culture, Religion, Science & Technology, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. PJ says:

    Speaking on Sunday, Gabbana said: “We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it.”

    And people then have the right to make decisions based on what they say, including whether to buy their clothes or not, or, for that matter, call on others to boycott them.

  2. Mikey says:

    I don’t really care all that much, either, but I can certainly understand why Elton John and the many other people whose children were conceived via IVF would. I can’t think of anyone who would appreciate being told their child is “less than” in such a fundamental way.

    The applicable question IMO is whether public figures–regardless of their position–should be made to pay a price for such idiocy.

  3. Tyrell says:

    The photo in that ad goes over the line. Certainly they could design an ad that is more tasteful and appropriate.

  4. PJ says:

    Also, boycotting moron pasta makers seems to have worked rather well.

  5. David in KC says:

    The free market at work.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Should We Boycott Moron Clothing Designers?

    Yes (tho probably not for the reasons postulated here)


    The applicable question IMO is whether public figures–regardless of their position–should be made to pay a price for such idiocy.

    I was just thinking that these poor overly compensated egotists were being unfairly vilified for acts that only private individuals, you know, little people, should have to pay for.

  7. Another Mike says:

    It would never occur to me to call IVF children synthetic, but the term may be correct in that the children were not conceived through the conjugal relations of their mothers and fathers.

    Here is a perspective from the point of view of such a child.

    If one is upset by what this clothing designer has said, then they are free to avoid buying his products. We are all free to choose from whom to buy.

  8. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Pay a price” I mean literally, as in lose money through boycotts. The average private individual might receive some scorn (or, depending on where they live, praise), but in most instances there wouldn’t be a financial impact. (Of course there are some instances of that, but they are rare.)

  9. PJ says:

    I would assume that the two designers in question and the company so far have gained quite a bit from them being public figures.
    Now they and the company may lose money from it, but far less than their gains.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    First of all, I am, as some of you know, quite the fashionista. Just recently I made a huge fashion move, one that I’m confident will soon be reported on the front pages of Vogue and GQ: Yes, I switched from Eddie Bauer tall black v-neck t-shirts to Eddie Bauer tall black crew-neck t-shirts.

    I think it’s good to shake up your style every decade. Or so. I’ll be reconsidering my Ralph Lauren blue jeans in mid 2018. It’s entirely possible I could switch to Tommy Hilfiger. Or Costco brand.

    As for Dolce and Gabbana, I’m really not sure I have the energy to boycott everyone who says something stupid. That sounds like a full-time job.

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    Elton John, I should point out, does not walk his own walk: he played at the wedding of Rush Limbaugh for $1 million (which was apparently a cut-rate favor to Limbaugh, as John’s usual rate is $2mm for private events) and has claimed that Limbaugh is a friend. Limbaugh, of course, has spewed far more hateful and grotesque rhetoric about gays and gay families than D&G ever have.

  12. Moosebreath says:


    “Should We Boycott Moron Clothing Designers?

    Yes (tho probably not for the reasons postulated here)”


  13. gVOR08 says:

    Having given this matter all the deep thought it deserves, my carefully considered reaction is – meh. Why the flock would I care?

  14. al-Ameda says:

    I must admit: I’m so jaded by these hipster fashionista efforts to “shock” us that I hardly noticed what it was that was supposed to shock me.

    I realize that I’m supposed to “think of the effect on the children” and so forth, but really, there is so much out in the world that I actually should be shocked about.

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but both Dolce and Gabbana are gay men themselves. Side-stepping the obvious self-loathing due to religion issues, I believe that’s where a good deal of the rancor against them regarding these statements stems from – the gays see it as betrayal by two of their own.

  16. Pinky says:

    I just took a look at their online catalog. I could put together a really nice outfit for the price of my car.

  17. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Just trust me on this one – never, ever travel to Europe. Your provincial head would explode at the sight of the billboards alone.

  18. Franklin says:

    Personally, I’m becoming kind of a Zero Population Growth proponent, so I’m not really for more babies. But the problem isn’t the people using IVF: at least they’re planning their family and how to take care of it. For the same reason, I suspect that they will be better, more responsible parents who teach their kids the difference between right and wrong. (Wrong, of course, being wearing designer clothes in the first place.)

  19. grumpy realist says:

    Considering that my fashion sense veers between “what I can pick up for cheap on Ebay” and “what I can run up on the sewing machine”….

    D&G has always struck me as “outlandish prices for badly designed clothing.” The only explanation I can make for much of women’s modern clothing is that it was designed by the subset of gay men who hate women.

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    D&G has always struck me as “outlandish prices for badly designed clothing.” The only explanation I can make for much of women’s modern clothing is that it was designed by the subset of gay men who hate women.

    You should get the Nobel Prize for that observation.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    @al-Ameda: Ha! Not my original thought–has been stated by many observers, both men and women of both the left and the right.

    (Ditto on the designers for high heeled shoes with pointy toes. I spent two days recently scouring the Web for a place where I could get a decent pair of slippers with a low heel that didn’t make me look like an ad for sheepskin. In the 1950s they used to make frilly slippers for women with low heels–where did all the manufacturers go? Try finding a woman’s marabou bedroom slipper with less than a 3 inch heel, yikes.)

  22. al-Ameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Try finding a woman’s marabou bedroom slipper with less than a 3 inch heel, yikes.)

    Bedroom slippers with “stripper” type heels?

    I’ve always thought that only a man would design high heels. I do understand the sexiness angle to all of this but really, I don’t see how women can walk more that 20 feet across a dance or office floor in high heels.

  23. ernieyeball says:

    “It’s quite outrageous that two gay fashion designers who have relied on the gay community for much of their success are opposing gay equality. They’re lining up with the Pope and the far right in their support for legal discrimination.”

    There are billions and billions of sperm. Never know which one will hit the egg.
    Carl Sagan’s Son Is a 9/11 Truther

    Well, on first seeing it—anyone seeing it can see that there’s something suspicious about it. I think it was New Year’s 2002, I was at a friend’s house, and they were saying Bush could never do something like this because he was incompetent. But in retrospect, now that I think about it, it’s true. I don’t think Bush could really do it, but that’s why they had him skirted off into Florida, to get him a little bit out of the way. In retrospect, you look at that and its obvious it was a controlled demolition.
    Jeremy Sagan

  24. Tyrell says:

    @grumpy realist: What you have is another example of some people having more money than they have sense.

  25. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: They could, but the more tasteful ads wouldn’t appeal to their target demo.

    Some people, it seems, just love the idea of being a dude watching some other naked dude writhe on the ground all nubile and what, and being sharply-dressed while doing so. Why does this fantasy, as thin a veneer as it is, appeal to anyone? I don’t know. Advertising has become so surreal over the last decade. Most of my peers are missing out. They’re canceling cable and going for commercial-free Internet streaming, and they are missing out on how desperate marketing has become.

    Does anyone perceive logic in the Skittles ads of today? Nothing about the qualities of the candy, imagined or real, is presented. No, instead some old woman has magically harnessed a small cloud to be her pet and companion, and pets it occasionally to make candy fall out of it. There’s a thin similarity between clouds and piñatas there, so very thin as to make the hackles on a semiotician rise in warning before he’d begin screaming at the woman leashing the cloud. I mean, at least the writhing naked dude is applicable: I could see myself doing that either sharply-dressed or with some sort of breakfast burrito. You can attempt to sell me on that logic; I at least know what you’re going for.

    @Rafer Janders: True, but Elton’s complaint here isn’t that his gayness is being called degenerate (which he’s probably used to). His children are being labeled fake. And not for being superficial either. The walk takes a few different trails that Rush, to my knowledge, hasn’t ever rolled down.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @al-Ameda: High heels run the gamut from “small elevation, you don’t even really know the difference” to “can’t walk more than three feet in these things.” They also run the gamut from “wide heel, won’t cause a problem” to “stiletto heel, easy to break your ankle in.”

    It used to be pretty easy to find moderate heels in formal shoes. 1″-2.5″. Not much. Now it’s almost impossible. Shoe manufacturers go for whackingly high (3″ -5″) heels. There’s a reason why there’s a demand for the designer (Tory Burch, etc.) ballet flat types–formal, but comfortable. I just don’t like paying the outrageous prices. There should be someone out there manufacturing formal, but low heel shoes. Nope.

    (I’d look for vintage shoes on Ebay except my other problem is that I’m quite tall and have corresponding big feet. Sigh.)

    P.S. The standard manufacturers who make shoes in my size seem to be catering to the drag queen contingent, which means of course 3″ in the LOWEST you can usually find and 4″ – 5″ is now standard. Heck, it would be more comfortable to get a pair of toe shoes and bourre along en pointe.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    so a normal black tee-shirt from D&G costs $275.00

    Yes, indeed, the “more money than sense” people.

  28. Tony W says:

    @grumpy realist: Kinky Boots, eh?

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @Tony W: Surprisingly enough, boots are the one area I don’t have as much of a problem. There seem to be enough well-designed boots out there that I actually get a chance to buy something. (I think this is because there is sufficient demand in places that get the actual white stuff on the ground for something that is practical.)

    But yeah–I estimate 70% of the boots out there fr women are the high heel stiletto types which make me wonder about the intelligence of someone wearing them. You can sprain your ankle only so many times before it starts to add up.

  30. bill says:

    guess d&g didn’t get that memo? you know, the one that states you have to support everything 100% one way or the other or just shut the f up.

  31. DrDaveT says:

    I am powerless here. I can’t “boycott” something I was never going to buy in the first place.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    I know the most wonderful little 7 year old girl, who was brought into this world thru IVF.
    She regularly melts this stone-cold heart.
    Fvck these clowns.

  33. Crusty Dem says:

    @Another Mike:

    Wow, a link that doesn’t day what you claim and has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    I guess I’m the fool for reading something you posted. I’ll try not to repeat the error in the future.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    How did I not think of this? Al Gore. That’s who could run against Hillary.

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What’s the best way to get scotch out of a computer monitor?

  36. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: @HarvardLaw92: Why, Ezra even included the campaign poster:

    Al Gore campaign poster

  37. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: That thing absolutely screams for some Photoshop.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    Go ahead and laugh, but if you polled on it I bet he’d get 25% of Dem voters without even trying. He’d get some money, too.

    Don’t forget: he was already elected once.

  39. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: You’re probably right. It seems to me there’s a sizable portion of Democrats who aren’t particularly happy with the prospect of another Clinton in the White House, nor with the apparent de facto award of the nomination to her nearly two years out.

    Given Elizabeth Warren’s to-this-point sincere and firm assertions she will not be seeking the nomination, who else do the Democrats have to block Hillary’s coronation? Gore jumping into the ring seems less ridiculous every time I think about it. He is every bit the known quantity Hillary is. As Klein points out in the Vox piece, Gore’s potential problems are pretty similar to hers. And as you say, he’s already won nationwide elective office. He’s run a Presidential campaign that came within a SCOTUS decision of victory, and which a non-trivial number of people believe he actually won.

    In addition, he’s got a clearly-articulated vision, expressed in many speeches and several books. Whatever his failings on the stump, you can’t say he’s devoid of big ideas.

    You might be on to something.

  40. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    I know this is all snark.
    But seriously…can’t we stop fighting the old wars?
    (maybe thats why we keep makeing the same movies over and over again and making the same cars over and over again)
    Is there really no one in the Democratic Party that is better qualified than a$$-hats like Walker and Paul??
    Hard to ignore Clinton’s (currently) dominating polling #’ers…but still.

  41. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: It would only work if he had the writing staff of Futurama on his campaign doing his speeches. He doesn’t come off as charismatic unless he’s also slightly goofy, like him and his Action Rangers, or is only composed of his head, like when he was Emperor of the Moon.

  42. ernieyeball says:

    Don’t forget: he was already elected once.

    Hey! The GOP stole that election fair and square!

    The result of the election hinged on Florida, where the margin of victory triggered a mandatory recount. Litigation in select counties started additional recounts, and this litigation ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court’s contentious decision in Bush v. Gore, announced on December 12, 2000, ended the recounts, effectively awarding Florida’s votes to Bush and granting him the victory. This marked the fourth election in U.S. history in which the eventual winner failed to win a plurality of the popular vote (after the elections of 1824, 1876, and 1888). Later studies have reached conflicting opinions on who would have won the recount had it been allowed to proceed. WikiP

    Not to mention that busybody Ralph Nader could have stayed home.

  43. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: That is interesting. I think that Al would put a lot of emphasis on technology and research: space exploration, alternative fuels, time travel.

  44. george says:


    Not to mention that busybody Ralph Nader could have stayed home.

    Independents are great when they help your party, horrible when they hurt it. Both parties have benefited at times by the presence of an independent (though more in depth analysis shows typically they get votes from people who wouldn’t have showed up otherwise, and ‘take’ votes from both parties).

    But actually, nobody owns votes. I’d say the SC stole an election, but Nader just gave people another choice. There’s never anything wrong with that.

  45. ernieyeball says:

    …but Nader just gave people another choice.

    Another choice for what? Perennial gadfly?
    I voted for Eugene McCarthy in 1976, John Anderson in 1980 and the ever popular
    Gus Hall/Angela Davis ticket in 1984. My first presidential ballot went to George McGovern who might as well have been the Socialist Workers nominee for all the chance he had of victory.
    I never thought any of them would win.
    Politics1 lists “The Big Three” third parties and 45 others.
    I guess if the “Vote or be Punished” crowd ever prevails electors will have all the choices they need.

  46. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: elected as vice president, sure- so was clueless joe! you aren’t saying he actually won back in the “hanging chad” daze are you? even the nyt gave that lameness up.
    but back to the gay, overpriced clothing we all need to boycott…..i’m there.