Accusations of racism cause Gucci to pull ‘blackface’ sweater

Blackface sweater (Image source: Gucci.com screenshot)

So far, 2019 has produced a plethora of negative imagery of racial animus across the United States. From a protest held in Washington, D.C., to images of prominent government officials wearing blackface. It would seem that companies would be cognizant of this fact and keep a wary eye out for issues. Apparently, all that failed when fashion powerhouse Gucci decided to sell a sweater online that many are calling insensitive and racist.

The sweater in question is described by the company as a “wool balaclava jumper” and had a hefty price of $890. The offensive part of the clothing features a cut-out for the mouth with big red lips, making the wearer appear to be in blackface. The backlash online was intense and the Italian-based company has pulled the item from online sale. In addition, it released the following statement on Twitter late Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, “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.”

But Gucci was not the only clothier to market a controversial item during Black History Month. Adidas, one of the largest makers of sneakers, issued a special edition sneaker to honor the Harlem Renaissance period of Black culture. The insensitive aspect of the sneaker was that it is all-white and the impact of #BlackTwitter posts caused the company to pull this offering. Adidas released the following statement that reads in part: “Toward the latter stages of the design process, we added a running shoe … that we later felt did not reflect the spirit or philosophy of how Adidas believes we should recognize and honor Black History Month. After careful consideration, we have decided to withdraw the product from the collection.”

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.