Gucci somehow thought this blackface sweater was OK

@Fuckrashida / Twitter (Fair Use) Alex Dalbey

The fashion label has since apologized.

The luxury Italian fashion brand Gucci apologized on Wednesday after it was called out for a sweater that many said resembled blackface.

On Wednesday, people online took notice of a particular item in Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection, a black balaclava sweater with red detailing around the mouth. Unfortunately for Gucci, it wasn’t because they wanted to buy the $890 luxury knit top, but because the design was deeply offensive.

Before the sweater was removed from Gucci’s site, the red detailing on the sweater was described as “contrast trim around the mouth.” In combination with the black wool and the baklava design, many people saw the design as recalling or referencing the exaggerated red lips used in blackface.

In response to the backlash, Gucci quickly removed the sweater from both its online and physical stores and issued a public apology. “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” said the statement on Twitter. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully 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.”

After the apology, people continued to criticize Gucci, saying that the fact that the offensive nature of the sweater was not caught before it hit stores shows a serious lack of diversity in the fashion brand’s employees.

The lesson of this “teaching moment” as Gucci called it, is not just to hire more Black people, although that is certainly a big part of it. It’s also to create a work environment where employees feel comfortable and secure bringing up issues of racism without fear of backlash, and with the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously.

Alex Dalbey

Alex Dalbey

Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.