Gucci pulls face-covering sweater after blackface flap
08 February 2019 – Luxury fashion brand Gucci issued an apology last night and said it has discontinued the balaclava jumper, a garment whose design caused immediate backlash over its resemblance to racist blackface imagery.
The wool top, which was set to retail for US$890, appears in promotional photos as a black sweater that covers the lower half of the wearer’s face, with a mouth opening outlined in red suggesting oversized lips.
Social media users were quick to point out the connection to blackface, the viscerally hurtful performance of racial stereotypes against people of African descent.
The garment was slammed for its “blatantly racist design” by one Twitter user while others threatened to boycott the brand, called for it to hire more African Americans, or noted the particularly irksome timing of the launch during Black History Month.
“Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” the company said in its statement. “We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”
The gaffe also comes amid ongoing scandal in the U.S. state of Virginia as Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring are both under fire for revelations of having worn blackface in the 1980s.