Gucci apologized and stopped the sale of a sweater that many social media users said looked like blackface. In a tweet sent on Wednesday, the Italian luxury brand partly said that it was deeply sorry for the offense caused by the sweater. The wool balaclava jumper is no longer available for purchase on the company’s website. The black turtleneck sweater is designed to pull up over the bottom half of the face. It features a cut out and a pair of oversized red lips around the mouth.
Gucci said that it is committed towards increasing diversity throughout its organization adding that this unfortunate incident has been turned into a powerful learning moment for everyone working there. The sweater was considered as racist by thousands of social media users. Even though the company apologized for the design, there are still a number of Twitter users who said that it was a little too late. They argued that the company must have known how racist the balaclava looked and yet went on to launch it anyway. For such a huge brand, it’s impossible to believe that the company didn’t consider the possibility of this kind of backlash.
The fact that the controversy was actually taking place during Black History Month was also pointed out on social media. Many users were quick to note that this was a much bigger insult to black people around the world considering the timing. But this is not the first time that a major fashion brand has found itself in trouble due to racist blackface imagery. Just last year, the luxury fashion house Prada had to withdraw a number of products from its stock after it was pointed out that they depicted blackface imagery. The products were part of Prada’s Pradamalia line.
The latest controversy also comes on the backdrop of another racism scandal involving Virginia governor Ralph Northam. Northam is facing criticism over a picture in his medical school’s yearbook that depicts one person with blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The Virginia governor admitted that he was on the photo and apologized for it but later denied it. He did admit though that he had once dressed up in blackface during a dance contest in San Antonio, Texas. There have been calls for Northam to resign too.
But over the last few days, the governor has been trying to move past this. He met with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Dr. Charles Steele Jr. as well as the chairman of the board Dr. Bernard LaFayette. Both are well-known leaders in a group that was once led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Reports noted that the meeting was organized to help Northam move past the scandal but no more details about it have been revealed so far.
The Gucci jumper that has since been removed from stock had a price tag of $890. The blackface imagery has often been viewed by many people as a subtle expression of racism against black people. It’s not hard to see why the Gucci sweater has become so scandalous.