Fashion house Gucci has discontinued a jumper accused of resembling blackface and apologised for any offence caused.
The balaclava jumper, which is part of the Italian brand’s Autumn Winter 2018 collection, features a black polo neck with a cutout mouth and exaggerated red lips.
Gucci withdrew the jumper from its online and physical stores after social-media users pointed out its resemblance to blackface – a type of theatrical makeup that is often deemed offensive and racist.
Gucci posted apology on Twitter
On Wednesday evening, the brand apologised in a statement on Twitter.
“Gucci deeply apologises for the offence caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores,” it said.
“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
Balaclava inspired by “vintage ski masks”
The description of the product on Gucci‘s site previously read, “inspired by vintage ski masks, multi-coloured knitted balaclavas walked the runway, adding a mysterious feel to this collection”.
The fashion brand said it will learn from the experience going forward.
“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond,” it said.
Other Italian fashion houses accused of racism
This is not the first time a luxury Italian fashion brand has been accused of blackface. In December, Prada withdrew a series of key rings after accusations that they resembled black monkeys with large, red lips.
In a similar incident, Dolce & Gabbana was forced to postpone a fashion show in Shanghai after a promotional video depicting a Chinese model eating spaghetti with chopsticks was deemed racist, with several retailers withdrawing the brand’s products.
In contrast, luxury brand Vetements’ Spring Summer 2019 collection taught fans the history of ethnic cleansing in Georgia by scanning QR codes incorporated into the items.
Dezeen was not able to reach Gucci for comment.