The fashion brand responded to the harsh backlash in a statement on Friday
Prada has come under fire for its product line of cartoon characters that many are accusing of being racist for its resemblance to blackface imagery. After harsh backlash, the brand just announced its decision to pull the controversial products from stores.
The hashtag #boycottPrada has been circulating on Twitter ever since Chinyere Ezie, an activist and civil rights lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, shared a powerful Facebook post that went viral.
Ezie shared photos of Prada’s N.Y.C. Soho storefront featuring the controversial character. The character has a black skin tone with red lips, features strongly associated with blackface, which is evident in Ezie’s accompany shots of blackface examples.
In the Facebook post, she explained that she had just visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and saw an exhibit on blackface and was shocked to see “the very same racist and denigrating #blackface imagery” at the Prada storefront.
“I entered the store with a coworker, only to be assaulted with more and more bewildering examples of their Sambo like imagery,” she wrote in the post. “When I asked a Prada employee whether they knew they had plastered blackface imagery throughout their store, in a moment of surprising candor I was told that a black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore. History cannot continue to repeat itself. Black America deserves better. And we demand better.”
Her post and hashtag #boycottprada went viral and the brand responded to the backlash on Friday morning. Prada Group released a statement to PEOPLE and shared it on the brand’s Twitter page announcing its decision to pull the controversial character.
“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.”
Gothamist reported that the displays at the brand’s N.Y.C. Soho store were removed on Friday morning.
The Pradamalia page is still live on Prada.com and explains the origin of the designs calling them Prada’s “new family of mysterious creatures.” There are seven varieties of creatures, each meant to “exhibit supernatural powers and a few glaring quirks.”
“Inside the imaginary futuristic Prada Labs, a team of researchers set out to study Prada DNA that has proven to be so extraordinarily generative for over a century. The result of these experiments is Pradamalia, a new family of mysterious tiny creatures that are one part biological, one part technological, all parts Prada,” the website reads. “Having escaped the labs, the Pradamalia have arrived in Prada stores and at prada.com in time for the holidays.”
The brand used the designs on accessories including keychains, wallets, earrings and necklace charms. The items with the character under fire have been removed from Prada’s website.