Gucci removes $890 "blackface" sweater, apologizes after receiving backlash

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Gucci has removed a controversial sweater from its website and apologized after some people said the sweater resembled blackface. The black turtleneck covers the face and has mouth opening with red lips surrounding it. It originally cost $890, according to screenshots from the Gucci website, taken before the product was removed.

Many Twitter users who saw the sweater before it was removed were outraged that Gucci would release such an insensitive garment and tweeted to the company, demanding a change. Several people pointed out that not only did the sweater resemble the racist act of blackface, but it was released during Black History Month.

A screenshot taken before the sweater was removed made its rounds on social media, with many people writing to Gucci in outrage over the racist sweater. Gucci

Gucci removed the product and released a statement via Twitter on Wednesday. "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 company wrote, sharing an image of a longer statement.

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.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/P2iXL9uOhs

— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019

Gucci said the company is fully committed to increasing diversity throughout the organization. Several people pointed out that if more people of color worked at the fashion house, this insensitive garment may have been flagged as inappropriate and racist before being sold.

Lawmakers in the state of Virginia are also embroiled in a blackface controversy, with two top officials admitting to wearing blackface in the past. Several Twitter users pointed out that Gucci appeared to disregard this current scandal and seemed out of touch.

So @gucci puts out a sweater that looks like blackface……
On Black History Month….
And then issues an apology because they didn't know that blackface images are racist.

🤦🏿‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/G3HjPTIuuQ

— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) February 7, 2019

Prada and Gucci finally pulled their $550.00 keychain and $890 sweater after protesters called out racist imagery and deemed them unacceptable. Why didn't the brands see this? https://t.co/vnJJWv61Mp

— Nancy Etcoff (@NancyEtcoff) February 7, 2019

I’m sure sales in Virginia are good. #gucci #BlackFace pic.twitter.com/IZiGTQTKis

— Earl Skakel (@EarlSkakel) February 7, 2019

Another major fashion brand was recently called out for using racist blackface images. In December, Prada came under fire for using blackface-style imagery in at least one of its New York City storefronts and online. The luxury brand was featuring a black caricature with exaggerated big red lips. Photos of the display brought fierce backlash on social media and prompted the company to get rid of the items.

First published on February 7, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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