Fashion company Gucci has pulled a sweater from their stores after several complaints that the sweater resembles blackface.
The company also issued an apology for the $890 turtleneck black wool balaclava sweater which has a collar that can cover the lower half of a person’s face.
Check it out, via the Associated Press:
Gucci has apologized after complaints that a wool sweater with an oversized collar designed to cover the face resembled blackface makeup, and said the item had been pulled from its online and physical stores.
It was the latest case of a fashion house having to apologize for cultural or racial insensitivity — and further evidence that Italy in particular has a wretched record with racial insensitivity staining everything from fashion to soccer to politics.
The company took to Twitter on Wednesday night and wrote: “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
The Associated Press reports this is far from the first time that a company has been forced to walk back new items amid controversy:
Gucci, owned by French conglomerate Kering with an Italian design team, isn’t alone.
In December, Italian designer Prada said it was no longer selling a line of accessories that featured a character with brown skin and exaggerated red lips after complaints they resembled blackface.
And last year, Dolce & Gabbana canceled a Shanghai runway show and apologized after promotional videos seen as racist and subsequent insulting Instagram messages stoked a furor in one of the world’s largest markets for luxury goods. The ad campaign featured a Chinese model trying to eat pizza, spaghetti and a cannoli with chopsticks.
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
Non-Italian fashion brands have also been on the receiving end of complaints about insensitive products, behavior or ad campaigns.
British designer John Galliano was removed as creative director at the French fashion house Dior in 2011 and later given a suspended sentence by a French court for having made an anti-Semitic and racist rant at a Paris bar. The designer apologized and said he had been under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs at the time.
In 2014, the owner of Spanish retailer Zara recalled a children’s shirt that resembled the uniforms that Jews wore at Nazi concentration camps, with strips and a bright yellow six-pointed star recalling the Star of David. Owner Inditex said the shirt was designed to be part of a Wild West clothing theme and the star was intended as a sheriff’s badge.
And last year, Swedish retailer H&M pulled an ad featuring a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the words “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” The campaign sparked celebrity protests and in South Africa, members of an opposition party stormed into some stores. The retailer apologized.