The supermodel jumped to Gucci's defense after the Italian fashion house came under fire for a controversial sweater design

By Kaitlyn Frey
May 08, 2019 04:41 PM

Naomi Campbell came to Gucci’s defense after the Italian fashion label caused controversy by selling a $890 sweater that sparked accusations of racism for resembling blackface.

“I think it’s ridiculous for people to say they were burning their [Gucci] clothes. Don’t burn your clothes. It wasn’t intentional,” Campbell, 48, told The Washington Post.

In an effort to recover from the backlash, Gucci launched a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan, which includes hiring a global director for diversity and inclusion, starting a scholarship investment in Africa and forming an advisory council which includes Campbell, along with racial justice activists, academics and other celebrities.

Credit: Getty

“And on a positive note there’s a silver lining,” the supermodel said, noting Gucci’s new design scholarship program. “In a lot of countries, football was a way of getting out. Now those interested in fashion and creativity have a way.”

She added: “Regardless of what happened, I was always going to Gucci.”

Gucci’s wool “Balaclava” sweater (a look inspired by the brand’s fall/winter 2018 runway show in Milan last February) came under fire because the turtleneck top covered half the face and featured large red lips on a cut-out around the mouth. Many people quickly called out the brand for evoking racist blackface iconography.

The Italian fashion house issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for the insensitive piece and since removed it from its website.

“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 stated.

Credit: Gucci

Now, the company will also start a global exchange program “to promote a multicultural and diverse workplace by providing internal mobility for talents to come from the regions to work at the headquarter offices in Italy.”

“My entire life has been dedicated to fight to grant myself and other[s] the possibility to be different and to freely express themselves,” Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele said. “I look forward to welcoming new perspectives to my team and together working even harder for Gucci to represent a voice for inclusivity.”