Words: Hope Schreiber
Gucci has released an apology for its ‘blackface’ balaclava jumper.
Posting on Twitter, the brand said it “deeply apologizes” [sic] for the offence caused by the garment.
The statement also confirmed the garment had been removed online and from all physical stores.
The Italian luxury brand found itself in hot water with social media users after some questioned its “Balaclava knit top black,” which retails at £688.
Many pointed out that the sweater — which has since been taken down from the Gucci website — resembled blackface.
The sweater, which has a balaclava attached near the wearer’s neck that can be brought up to cover the bottom half of the face, was initially pointed out by a Twitter user, Rashida. The knit sweater has a hole cut around the mouth and features oversized red lips, which is common in depictions of blackface caricatures.
“Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all,” she shared.
The Twitter user also shared an accessory that seems to match perfectly with the top, which covers the wearer’s eyes. Essentially, you can have a “chic classic [blackface] moment without the mess of paint.”
A balaclava, or a balaclava helmet, is a form of clothing that covers much of a person’s face, usually except for the eyes. While they are commonly used for winter sports such as skiing and snowmobiling, they are often worn by the military and police, specifically SWAT and other special forces, to conceal their identity.
While Gucci did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment, this is not the first time in recent months that a fashion powerhouse has come under fire for products that resembled blackface.
In December, Prada released a campaign that featured a number of “mysterious creatures” that the company described as “part biological, one part technological, all parts Prada.” A civil rights lawyer and many social media users found the figures reminiscent of blackface, and the characters, dubbed “Pradamalia,” were withdrawn by Prada after the outcry.
In a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle, Prada said, “Prada Group abhors racist imagery. … We will withdraw all of the characters in question from display and circulation.”
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