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Following the release of Gucci's "Balaclava" sweater, users on social media were quick to point out that the turtleneck's design resembles blackface. In response to the wide-spread criticism, the Italian fashion house issued an apology and pulled the sweater from their online and in-store inventory.
"We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores," Gucci's statement read. "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."
The turtleneck, which can be pulled up to cover the bottom half of the face with a cut out that reveals oversized red lips, sparked controversy among critics online. Film producer Tariq Nasheed took to Twitter to dismiss Gucci's apology and accuse the brand of being tone deaf. “So Gucci puts out a sweater that looks like blackface... On Black History Month... And then issues an apology because they didn’t know that blackface images are racist,” he wrote.
Luxury fashion houses have been accused of racist imagery in the past. Both Dolce & Gabbana and Prada have been denounced for releasing garments and accessories which maintained racist undertones. Similarly, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is facing calls for resignation by members of his party following the release of photos from his medical school yearbook in which two men are wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and blackface.