A flurry of concerns have been voiced over two Katy Perry Collection styles that some thought resembled blackface.
In response, Global Brands Group announced it would pull the shoes from circulation, removing them from shelves at retailers like Walmart and Dillard’s.
Given Katy Perry’s major star power, the story has elicited many reactions on social media — and Twitter users’ responses have run the gamut. “I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface,” the performer said in a statement. “Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them.”
WNBA star Tammy Sutton-Brown took issue with the shoes, saying they indicated a broader problem in the fashion industry: a lack of diversity.
“Diversity in companies making these decisions would eliminate some of these very wrong products from coming out,” the Olympian wrote.
On Feb. 9, a tweet by @daniellovesyooh that criticized the shoes went viral, racking up more than 2,100 likes.
“@katyperry are you actually serious right now?! blackface on a SHOE?? what is WRONG with you,” the tweet read.
“Another one to add to your
#blackface file. #katyperry Again, how does even go from a design sketch to production without anyone saying anything? #unbelievable,” @AngelaCFisher tweeted.
Opinion was divided, however, with many Twitter users feeling that the footwear did not resemble blackface.
Bethenny Frankel weighed in on the issue, adding the disclaimer that she “looked forward to getting hazed about” her opinion.
“I don’t think @katyperry or her design team would intentionally produce ‘black face’ shoes,” the “Real Housewives of New York” star tweeted.
Yahoo! Finance reporter Zack Guzman said he didn’t see a problem with the shoes, drawing a comparison between a Gucci balaclava that the brand withdrew from shelves last week amid similar claims.
“The Gucci scarf being called out for blackface made sense, seeing as it’s meant to be worn by a person over an actual face – but Katy Perry’s shoes being called out as racist? Important to note it was a face design on a shoe, that came in both white and black leather,” he wrote.
Conversations around racially insensitive products and marketing have been increasingly prevalent in the fashion industry of late, with Gucci and Prada taking heat in recent months.
Prada drew criticism in December for selling and displaying monkey figures that resembled blackface characters. Gucci, meanwhile, is dealing with fallout from a black wool balaclava sweater that had a mouth cutout with outsized red lips. The design was pulled last week, and brand CEO Marco Bizzarri is reportedly traveling to Harlem, N.Y., this week to discuss the situation with design partner Dapper Dan and other community members.