Gucci has been forced to apologies and remove its balaclava jumper from sale after hundreds of people complained that it resembled “blackface”.
The $890 sweater had been part of the AW18/19 collection and features a high neck which covers the lower half of the face and a cut out for the mouth with red lip detail.
When the item had been listed for sale on its site Gucci claimed it had been inspired by ski masks and balaclavas, but following a social media backlash it was removed and the Italian luxury house said it was “deeply sorry” for any offence caused.
“We deeply apologise for the offence caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We 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 organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond,” a statement read.
The move comes after fellow Italian luxury houses Prada and Dolce & Gabbana found themselves also facing accusations of recent racism. Before Christmas Prada was called out for black characters with large red lips in its shop displays and on key chains. The characters were supposed to be aliens, the brand said, but were withdrawn following complaints.
Dolce & Gabbana was accused of offending Chinese consumers with an ad showing a Chinese woman giggling and struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks. The brand was criticised for peddling outdated racial stereotypes and many Chinese retailers removed the brand from their stores.
The row was further inflamed after Stefano Gabbana’s private Instagram page featured a post describing China as “a country of shit”. The co-founder of the brand claimed his page had been maliciously hacked.