Gucci recently released a “wool balaclava jumper,” but due to a lack of thought put into the design, they have hastily removed it from all online and physical stores.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a balaclava is defined as,
“a closely fitting covering for the head and neck, usually made from wool”
The luxury brand’s garment is a black, wool sweater that covers the wearer’s mouth.
The problem is that they decided to make the sweater black and they outlined the mouth cutout with big, red lips.
Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all. pic.twitter.com/HA7sz7xtOQ
— Rashida Reneé (@fuckrashida) February 6, 2019
It seems like this white model is wearing someone else’s skin, no? Oh, yeah. We call that blackface.
One Twitter user released pictures of the garment saying
“Happy Black History month y’all”
People can’t believe the company would design the article of clothing without realizing its racist implications.
I am a @Gucci fan, and I was going to buy a jacquard cardigan because it’s a forever piece, but until they and other luxury brands hire some people of color to consider the imagery of items like the “blackface” balaclava sweater (Randy Jackson voice) its a no for me dawg! https://t.co/Ln9vHbhBVN
— KLD (@karyndeshields) February 7, 2019
It’s 2019, when are we going to stop using stereotypes etc as marketing tactics?
As a Marketer/advertisier, there is a team responsible for checking stuff like this. But the problem is: if no one sees a problem with it on the team. @gucci you’re dead wrong. https://t.co/6V9w8X6KPB
— 和 明呀 (@miamohill) February 6, 2019
Did they seriously not think this was at all a bad idea?
— RedSinister????????????????レッドシニスター (@RedSinister97) February 7, 2019
Gucci stupid. It’s unfathomable that it even made it past the initial drawing phase. Tells you everyone in Gucci down to production thought it was a good idea.
— Angel (@1SparkleAngel) February 7, 2019
Yeah… did they have to add the red lips?? SMH
— Saffy (@MrsSaffyT) February 7, 2019
After the product sparked outrage, Gucci issued an apology.
Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.
We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/P2iXL9uOhs
— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019
But to many people, they think the entire thing is simply a marketing ploy with no consideration for those offended.
Gucci’s apology was absolutely shit
— Nneka (@nneksss) February 7, 2019
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.
— The GLOWBOSS (@VanessaVeasley) February 7, 2019
So how many people did this get past before someone relaized it maybe wasn't a good idea. It's funny the companies are always apologizing after the decision makers think something so obviously wrong to the world is ok. Is it safe to say there are 0 American Black people staffed?
— Kay Mogul (@KayMogul) February 7, 2019
Gucci made this item slightly offensive (just racist enough to cause outrage, but not racist enough to be indefensible) on purpose, so that Gucci could get black twitter talking about their item. Then Gucci came with the textbook apology after they got the attention they wanted.
— Wakanda Shit Is That? (@unemployedfatty) February 7, 2019
Perhaps they felt that any publicity is good publicity, but what about maintaining a sense of ethics?