Gucci Issues Apology After Coming Under Fire for Turtleneck Sweater Evoking 'Blackface'

The brand has pulled the controversial design from all retail locations

Gucci balaclava knit top black

Gucci is facing intense backlash over an $890 sweater that has sparked accusations of racism.

The brand’s wool “Balaclava” sweater (a look inspired by the brand’s fall/winter 2018 runway show in Milan last February) features a turtleneck top that covers half the face and features large red lips printed around a mouth cut -out. The design has been checked by many for evoking racist blackface iconography. The Italian fashion house issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for the insensitive piece.

“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 brand shared.

Although the top has officially been removed from its shopping site and all of Gucci’s stores, many people are still outraged and have taken to Twitter to expressing their disappointment.

Many have also pointed out the unfortunate coincidence that the design house released this item during Black History month.

The brand’s creative director Alessandro Michele seemed to indirectly reference the controversy by posting a photo from a recent runway show with the caption: “I love all colors.”

This is not the first time a high-end brand has been called out for offensive imagery. Prada was just recently at the center of its own blackface controversy for releasing a product line of cartoon characters in December of 2018. The label also made the quick decision to pull the products and released an apology on Twitter: “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.”

Social media users have noticed the derogatory-style pattern in these luxury brands. Author Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff called out Gucci and Prada on their designs.

The $890 designer jumper has been officially removed from all Gucci retailers.

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