Gucci has apologized and removed a sweater from its online store after a social media uproar called out the fashion house because the design resembles blackface, according to CNN.
The black sweater, which has been pulled from the luxury brand’s website, features a turtleneck with a mouth cut out and giant red lips around it. This means when the turtleneck is pulled up, the bottom half of the wearer’s face looks shockingly close to blackface.
Representatives for the Italian fashion house took to Twitter to apologize, saying the company “deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.”
“We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores,” read a statement released by Gucci on Wednesday. “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.”
Twitter users found the sweater came far too close to resembling a parodic blackface depiction, and social media users did not mince words in letting the company have it with both barrels.
“One day I am going to deliver a prolific dissertation on how it feels to live in a continuous cycle of disrespect as a black man,” said Twitter user Michael Bonner. “Gigantic brands like @gucci create offensive ‘fashion,’ quickly apologize, and then state, ‘We did not know.’ I don’t care. This is unacceptable.”
Additionally, Twitter user Keisha Ka’oir aptly expressed the sheer exhaustion some people feel due to fighting constant battles over race-based attacks in today’s political climate.
“Today Gucci released their Balaclava Knit Top. Sigh. Really Gucci? Really?” she tweeted.
Other luxury fashion brands are also familiar with getting into hot water over blackface imagery. Last year, Prada was forced to remove some items from its Pradamalia line from a Manhattan storefront when complaints surfaced over the monkey-like images with oversized red lips appearing to mimic blackface.
The Gucci issue comes around the same time that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was accused of racism, with the allegations resulting in calls for him to resign. This was due to college yearbook photos that allegedly featured Northam in blackface at a costume party – next to a classmate dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, complete with the white robe and hood.
Northam’s controversy continues to simmer, as the Democratic governor has steadfastly refused to resign. He initially apologized for the photo but has since walked back that apology and claimed that he cannot be sure that was actually him in the picture.