Gucci is pulling a black “balaclava knit” sweater emblazoned with large red lips after critics said it perpetuated the racist caricature known as blackface.
The $890 sweater was part of Gucci’s Autumn/Winter 2018 collection, and many quickly called it out as “racist” or “haute couture blackface.” The nearly century-old Italian fashion house apologized and said it was treating the incident as a “powerful learning moment for the Gucci team.”
“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make,” Gucci said in a statement Wednesday night. “We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization.”
Gucci isn’t the only fashion company that recently found itself under fire for a racist blunder or racial insensitivity. Earlier this week, Adidas was forced to apologize for rolling out a limited edition all-white running shoe, which it said was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, as part of a collection to celebrate Black History Month. The name of the shoe was “Ultraboost Uncaged.” The sportswear company said that “after careful consideration,” executives decided to withdraw the shoe from their Black History Month collection.
In December, Prada also withdrew several items evocative of racist caricatures, including a keychain of black monkey faces with exaggerated red lips. Their decision to withdraw the products came after a Facebook post by New York civil rights attorney Chinyere Ezie went viral.
Ezie wrote that she was left “shaking with anger” after she saw the keychains at a Prada store in Soho. “Black America deserves better,” Ezie wrote. “And we demand better.”
The Gucci debacle also comes amid a deepening political crisis in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to wearing blackface at college parties in the 1980s. A state lawmaker in Florida is also facing fresh calls to resign after a photo of him in blackface surfaced a few months ago. Florida’s Secretary of State also stepped down last month after the Tallahassee Democrat published photographs of him dressed in blackface as a “Hurricane Katrina Victim.
Cover image: Screenshot via Twitter