Gucci Pulls ‘Blackface’ Sweater After Social Media Outrage

Gucci apologized and pulled a wool balaclava sweater from stores after critics accused it being “unacceptable” and “racist.”

The sweater, priced at £688 (~$893) featured a black turtleneck meant to be worn up and above the nose, with a hole for the mouth outlined with a design meant to imitate big red lips. The imagery, intended or not, is undeniably reminiscent of the anti-black mammy caricature, the most well-known and enduring racial depiction of African women.

First posted to social media by Twitter user @f*ckrashida, the sweater has been called “intentional racism marketing.”

“They have a mask to match so you can have a chic classic black face moment without the mess of paint,” added @f*ckrashida in a later tweet.

Gucci tweeted an apology Wednesday night, writing that the brand “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. We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be 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.”

But Twitter wasn’t buying it.

@KayMogul wondered how many people approved the sweater despite it being “something so obviously wrong to the world.”

Along that vein, @VanessaVeasley suggested hiring more POC so that incident like this stop happening.

If you hire more Black people and cultivate an environment where people on all levels of the company feel comfortable to speak up incidents like this will be avoided.

But others felt as though the move was intentional on the part of Gucci, who made it “just racist enough” to cause outrage and get Black Twitter talking, but “not racist enough to be indefensible.”

The idea of brands using intentionally racist imagery as a marketing tool is not a novel one. Dolce & Gabbana was kicked out of China last December after debuting their “Eating with Chopsticks” video series, which featured Asian women attempting to eat American food with chopsticks to a Mandarin-speaking voiceover intentionally mocking Chinese speech.