Gucci Issues Apology, Pulls Sweater After Blackface Controversy

Gucci has apologized after multiple users on social media criticized the luxury brand for selling a sweater that evoked blackface.

The product was a turtleneck black wool balaclava sweater that retailed for $890. The piece, which could be pulled up over the wearer’s nose, highlighted red lips that served as an opening for the mouth and was part of a line of balaclava knitwear in Gucci’s fall ’18 collection.

Gucci's balaclava knit-top black sweater
Gucci’s balaclava knit-top black sweater.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, the Florence, Italy-based company said that it “deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” confirming that the piece was “immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores.”

It added: “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 and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

The incident comes less than a week into Black History Month, when German sportswear brand Adidas was also accused of selling an item deemed inappropriate. The product in question was a pair of nearly all-white sneakers that were intended to celebrate black culture.

It’s not the first time a luxury fashion brand has been called out for perceived insensitivity. In December, Prada withdrew a collection of monkey toys and keychains that evoked blackface imagery. A month prior, Dolce & Gabbana canceled its runway show in Shanghai following outcry over alleged racist remarks made by designer Stefano Gabbana as well as a social media campaign that arguably stereotyped Chinese people.

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