Luxury brand Gucci has apologized and removed a sweater from store shelves and from its online store that social media users said resembles blackface because of its design.
In a Twitter post Wednesday, the Italian luxury brand said it “deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper” that featured a roll-up collar that covers the lower face with oversized red lips around the mouth.
“Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” the company said in a statement late Wednesday. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
“We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores,” Gucci said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”
The black sweater, which had retailed for $890, was part of Gucci’s Fall Winter 2018 line.
Reaction to the sweater ranged from deep offense to some defending it.
This has to stop… Y’all know better by now
NO EXCUSES pic.twitter.com/xqrs19L7PC
— Christian D. Harris (@chrxstianh__) February 7, 2019
“What’s going on here @Gucci this is blatant Disrespect #Blackface,” posted Twitter user identified as King James shortly before Gucci tweeted its apology.
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary pointed out the irony of the timing with February being Black History Month.
“We have ONE month to celebrate the history of African Americans,” she tweeted. “We are a nation desperately in need of diversity training.”
Michael Bonner tweeted his exasperation at the constant depiction of racist imagery in the news as of late.
“One day I am going to deliver a prolific dissertation on how it feels to live in a continuous cycle of disrespect as a black man,” he said. “Gigantic brands like @gucci create offensive “fashion”, quickly apologize, and then state, ‘We did not know.” I don’t care. This is unacceptable.”
CNN notes: “This is not the first time a fashion brand has been accused of using such imagery. Last year, luxury fashion house Prada said it withdrew products after some items displayed in a Manhattan storefront were seen as depicting blackface imagery. The products, part of Prada’s Pradamalia line, were pulled after images surfaced of some merchandise depicting monkey-like figures with black faces and large red lips.”
So @gucci puts out a sweater that looks like blackface……
On Black History Month….
And then issues an apology because they didn't know that blackface images are racist.
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) February 7, 2019