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Gucci jumper 'resembling blackface' removed from sale after angry backlash

Outraged shoppers have threatened to boycott the luxury brand

Sarah Young
Saturday 09 February 2019 09:15 GMT
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Gucci has come under fire after shoppers complained a woman’s jumper “resembled blackface”.

The Italian fashion brand faced criticism after images of the $890 (£688) “balaclava jumper”, which features a cut-out at the mouth and red lips, were shared on social media.

“Inspired by vintage ski masks, multicoloured knitted balaclavas walked the runway, adding a mysterious feel to this collection,” says an item description.

“The Fall Winter 2018 runway show space reflected the stark environment of an operating room, emulating the theme of the collection where reconstructing materials and fabrics created a new identity.”

Many people voiced their criticism of the jumper, with some pointing out that Black History Month was off to an ignorant start.

“Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all,” one person wrote.

“Haute Couture Blackface for the millennials???” another person tweeted, while a third added: “THIIIIIIIS is blackface guys. THIS. huge overdramatic red lips and a literal BLACK face. This is DISGUSTING. I don’t wanna see any of you with Gucci belts and slides after this.”

Others threatened to boycott the brand until they hired more people of colour to prevent something likes this happening again.

“I am a Gucci fan, and I was going to buy a jacquard cardigan because it's a forever piece, but until they and other luxury brands hire some people of colour to consider the imagery of items like the 'blackface' balaclava sweater... it's a no for me,” one person wrote.

Gucci has since issued an apology “for the offence” caused and removed the item from its stores and website.

However, the item is still available to buy on shopping website Spring.

“We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores,” the company said in a statement.

“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.

“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

The controversy comes just weeks after Prada released an apologetic statement after being accused of using blackface imagery on products in a new collection.

“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.

“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

The controversy comes just weeks after Prada released an apologetic statement after being accused of using blackface imagery on products in a new collection.

On Thursday 13 December, lawyer Chinyere Ezie spotted figurines in the Prada shop window in Soho, New York that bore a resemblance to racist depictions of black people, with dark skin and large, red lips.

She expressed her disgust on social media, sharing photos of the figures from the Italian fashion house’s window display and from within the store.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Prada said: ““#Prada Group abhors racist imagery.

“The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.

“#Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery.

“In this interest we will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation."

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