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.
If you hire more Black people and cultivate an environment where people on all levels of the company feel comfortable to speak up incidents like this will be avoided.
— The GLOWBOSS (@VanessaVeasley) February 7, 2019
I feel like any decent person,regardless of the color of their skin, would clearly see this as wrong. Maybe they did this on purpose? There is no way that they actually took a look at this and said it was okay and meant it.
— ? JungShookish ? (@Jungshookish137) February 7, 2019
Why does everything have to be about race? Can’t we admit that the sweater was hideous regardless of color? It was some weird turtleneck combo thing.
— Nicholas DeConcilis (@NDeconcilis) February 7, 2019
You did on purpos yall cant even be ?about that lol
— ROCKS (@marvinrockss) February 7, 2019
Gucci made this item slightly offensive (just racist enough to cause outrage, but not racist enough to be indefensible) on purpose, so that Gucci could get black twitter talking about their item. Then Gucci came with the textbook apology after they got the attention they wanted.
— Wakanda Shit Is That? (@unemployedfatty) February 7, 2019
Extactly my thoughts, they are jumping on the same bandwagon as @Prada and many other brands. It’s the laziest form of marketing. This isn’t about hiring more black people It’s really about any publicity is good publicity.
— Pirate_4_life (@Pirate_4_life86) February 7, 2019
So how many people did this get past before someone relaized it maybe wasn’t a good idea. It’s funny the companies are always apologizing after the decision makers think something so obviously wrong to the world is ok. Is it safe to say there are 0 American Black people staffed?
— Kay Mogul (@KayMogul) February 7, 2019
They have a mask to match so you can have a chic classic black face moment without the mess of paint pic.twitter.com/xe373cY4h9
— Rashida (@fuckrashida) February 6, 2019
Companies need to start realizing that it’s 2019. They need to start hiring black people simple because they are black.
— TannBear ? (@tcminette) February 7, 2019
Put out a balaclava “Black Lava” jumper, sell a few thousand before the outrage, make it a limited edition by removing it from everywhere, apoligize to the black community so they will still purchase #gucci and go party a happy rich company. Tragic ?
— The 316 Pisces Effect (@316pisceseffect) February 7, 2019