Gucci withdraws €800 jumper after blackface backlash

Italian fashion brand lambasted over ‘balaclava’ polo neck with large red lips

Gucci: the balaclava jumper that has been withdrawn from sale

Gucci: the balaclava jumper that has been withdrawn from sale

 

Gucci has withdrawn a polo-neck jumper from its shops after social-media users said it resembled blackface.

The €800 “balaclava” knit, part of the Italian luxury fashion brand’s autumn-winter 2018 collection, covers the bottom half of the face and has a cutout mouth with large red lips.

On Wednesday, Twitter and Instagram users posted photographs of the jumper, with several pointing to the fact it is Black History Month in the United States. One person tweeted: “Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all.” Another blamed a lack of diversity at the brand.

On Wednesday night the brand apologised and said the jumper would be removed from its website. Gucci said: “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization.”

It said it would turn the incident “into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team”, adding it was “fully committed to increasing diversity”.

The blackface row is the latest in a string of race-related incidents involving luxury fashion brands. In December, Prada withdrew several items over concerns they too depicted blackface. The brand pulled a series of key chains from its Pradamalia line that appeared to resemble black monkeys with exaggerated red lips.

In November, Dolce & Gabbana postponed a fashion show in Shanghai after accusations of racism. In the run-up to the event the label had released a promotional video featuring a Chinese model eating Italian foods such as pizza and pasta with chopsticks. The image led to a backlash in China, and several retailers withdrew the brand’s products.

Although the balaclava jumper has been removed from all sites, the product information archived online reads: “Inspired by vintage ski masks, multicolored knitted balaclavas walked the runway, adding a mysterious feel to this collection.

“The fall/winter 2018 runway show space reflected the stark environment of an operating room, emulating the theme of the collection where reconstructing materials and fabrics created a new identity.”

On Wednesday, Gucci was named the hottest brand on the planet by Lyst, the influential fashion search platform. Gucci’s success in recent years has been attributed to its creative director, Alessandro Michele, who joined the company in 2015.

Gucci could not be reached for further comment. – Guardian