Gucci's wool balaclava sweater.
Gucci

  • Gucci has apologised after receiving backlash over its balaclava knit top.
  • People on social media said the $900 sweater – the equivalent of more than R12,000 – resembled blackface.
  • "Gucci deeply apologises for the offence caused by the wool balaclava jumper," the brand said in a statement on Wednesday.
  • The brand also confirmed the item had been removed from its physical and online stores.


Italian designer Gucci has apologised for selling a balaclava top that some people said resembled blackface.

It also removed the sweater from its shelves.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the brand said it "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.

"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."

The sweater, which reportedly cost $900 – the equivalent of more than R12,000 – caused outrage on social media from people who called out the brand for racism and said the item resembled blackface with its balaclava feature.

"Gucci: blackface But make it fashion," tweeted one person.

Another called out the red lips on the top, which are a traditional feature of blackface.

Blackface - the act of non-black people wearing makeup to try to look black - has a long racist history in the United States. It was used in minstrel shows, movies, and other forms of entertainment to dehumanise African-Americans and exclude them from the entertainment industry.

In the 19th century, actors caricatured black slaves, wearing burnt cork or shoe polish on their faces to make themselves look "black." The performances "characterised blacks as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hyper-sexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice," according to the National Museum of African-American History & Culture.

Blackface remained popular in the United States until the 1960s and the emergence of a burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. There's even an infamous 1953 Loony Tunes episode where Bugs Bunny dons it.

To this day, some people attempt to justify it around Halloween or at fraternity and sorority theme parties.

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