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Will Dolce & Gabbana be damaged by their tax conviction?

Designer darlings Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were sentenced to 22 months in prison for tax evasion to the tune of a cool £734m. But will the court case cost the duo more than just the hefty fine?

The long and dramatic trial started in 2010 when the design duo were put under investigation for failing to declare revenues of €840m (£734m) following  the sale of signature D&G lines to Luxembourg-based holding company Gado Srl in 2004.

The ensuing case saw the charges dismissed, appealed, and overruled before the pair were eventually fined £300m, charged and sentenced in true Italian soap opera style.

But what effect will this very public reckoning have on the brand itself?

In recent high profile cases of tax avoidance - Starbucks, Amazon et al - consumers spoke with their feet and chose to boycott rather than buy.

Although we may not like it, those companies were not acting illegally (as things currently stand) but have suffered dips in sales as a result of people’s disgust at their tax affairs. Will the fashion house face the same costly comeuppance? Somehow I doubt it.

After all the quintessential Dolce & Gabbana customer is far from the average Joe paying £1.95 for a fair trade Americano during their morning commute.

The design duo are also likely to avoid being tarred by the corporate brush. Starbucks and Amazon have no real personality, no public face - and are therefore easier to demonise as multi-billion-dollar institutions simply shirking their responsibilities that we all have.

Dolce & Gabbana are all about their personality, as their tweets during the tooing and froing of the court case showed.

Fans of the luxury label are less likely to care that their couture has cost the Italian government essential funds at a time when the country is crippled by economic recession, as chances are their day to day lives have not been directly affected by the cuts in fundamental services.

Throughout their careers Dolce & Gabbana have never been known to shy away from controversy so despite their involvement in white collar crime, which they are still in the process of appealing, I suspect that the bad boys of fashion will come back shining.

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