Milan fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has filed a defamation suit seeking over $US600 million ($780 million) in damages from two US fashion bloggers who reposted anti-Asian comments attributed to one of the designers that led to a boycott by Asian consumers.
The suit was filed in Milan civil court in 2019 but only became public this week when the bloggers posted about it on their Instagram account, Diet Prada.
Their feed is widely followed in the fashion world for its commentary on unoriginality in designs and on social issues.
"This whole case is a way of trying to silence Diet Prada, and to silence Tony (Liu) and Lindsay (Schuyler) personally,'' Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, said.
The institute is coordinating the bloggers' defence.
The case dates to November 2018, when Dolce & Gabbana faced a boycott in Asia after outrage over what were seen as culturally insensitive videos promoting a major runway show in Shanghai.
This was followed by allegedly insulting comments in a private Instagram chat of designer, Stefano Gabbana.
Mr Gabbana — along with fellow designer Domenico Dolce — initially said his account had been hacked.
The two later appeared in a video apologising to the Chinese people.
The show was cancelled in the backlash, which included retailers pulling Dolce & Gabbana merchandise and a number of consumers disavowing the brand.
"A public apology and a quiet lawsuit really cancel each other out in my mind,'' Ms Safidi told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Italian defence attorneys filed a brief this week, arguing that Italy was not the correct venue for the case, given that the blog is produced in the United States and the alleged damages occurred in Asia.
Since going public, Diet Prada, which has more than 2.5 million Instagram followers, has raised more than $38,000 for its defence.