Gucci has apologized after social media voices said that its $900 balaclava sweater resembled blackface. The sweater has been removed from Gucci stores and online.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the brand said it "deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper." It then added to the post:
"We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores.
"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."
Blackface — the act of non-black people wearing makeup to try to look black — is front and center in American politics, with the VA Democratic governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring both admitting to having dressed up to impersonate a black person. Blackface has a racist history in the United States. It was used in minstrel shows, movies, and other forms of entertainment that sought to dehumanize African-Americans and exclude them from the entertainment industry. In an extension of the blackface issue, I learned today that US Secretary of Energy and former Governor of Texas Rick Perry’s family ranch is named Niggerhead.
In the 19th century, actors caricatured black slaves, wearing burnt cork or shoe polish on their faces to make themselves look "black." The performances "characterized blacks as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hyper-sexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice," according to the National Museum of African-American History & Culture.
Our liberal American nerves are just fried over this racist nonsense in America. Social media posts arguing that there was no need to put red lips on the Gucci sweater — unless the intention was to create a blackface fashion statement — if one desired — resonate. AOC has a history of pushing back on what we feel is an absurd level of political correctness in our culture and fashion world. But sweaters like the Gucci one or Prada’s red lips, monkey trinket debacle from the Christmas holidays go too far.
If the minute I look at the item — as a very grownup New York white woman from Minnesota — I see blackface, trust me, the item is blackface and is put together by a design team that is culturally unaware. Gucci finances Dapper Dan, in all fairness, and is actively involved in promoting black artists. Prada’s racial history is definitely not great, but the brand has been committed to doing better in using black models both on the runway and in Prada ads.
Meanwhile, Director Spike Lee, nominated for an Oscar for his movie ‘BlacKkKlansman announced on Twitter today that he is boycotting both Prada and Gucci. Spike Lee shares a candid interview with Politico: ‘I Don’t Have the Answer’ : Spike Lee on Race in Trump’s America.