Gucci puts on sale racist blackface jumper and later apologizes for the ‘offense’

February 07, 2019 at 08:00 am | Opinions & Features

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

February 07, 2019 at 08:00 am | Opinions & Features

Controversial Gucci woollen jumper

Gucci has joined the long list of fashion brands that have offended black people with it’s newly released black woollen jumper that looks like the racist blackface used to demean black people in America’s history.

The luxury brand placed on sale the black “balaclava jumper” which covers the lower half of the face featuring a red cut-out around the mouth. It quickly received backlash on social media for the design which was deemed offensive.

The company took to social media on Thursday to apologize for what it acknowledged to be an “offense” and added that it would be removed from sale.

“Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We can confirm that the item has been removed from our online store and all our physical stores.

“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fulling committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond,” it said in its statement.

This trend of producing controversial items without analyzing its cultural significance to the consumer has been described as a deliberate publicity mechanism by many critics after repetition of the same “offence”.

Late last year, fashion brand Prada launched a racist blackface product at its SoHo boutique in New York which enraged customers.

Social media complaints of keychain figurines displayed in the store which featured black-faced monkeys with big red lips resembling the racist blackface of the 19th century drove the brand to issue an apology and later withdraw the products from the stores.

While Prada was posting statements of apology on its Twitter page, in the same breathe, it was advertising other products.

In January 2018, Swedish fashion brand H&M published photos of a black boy modelling a hoodie with the inscription “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” for its UK stores.

This was described as racist and inappropriate especially when other white models were wearing a similar sweatshirt with inscriptions including “Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert”.

The brand received a lot of backlash forcing them to remove the ad of the black boy who had posed with his hands in his pockets. They only apologized and called it a “mistake” after calls by opinion leaders and celebrities to boycott the brand in the U.S.

The slavery-era is an unforgettable episode in the history of the United States and it is inappropriate to retrace this dark past through mockery of the race that helped build this great nation.

However, the blackface phenomenon is re-emerging with many people and companies refusing to acknowledge the racism attached to the tradition. Many parents dress their children in blackface including some adults to depict black celebrities without recognizing the ridicule and torture it brought to black people.

Here are some reactions to Gucci’s racist action.

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