Gucci has issued an abject apology after people noticed that its black balaclava sweater, which features cartoonishly thick, red lips around the mouth cut-out, looks an awful lot like blackface.
“Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all,” quipped one Twitter user on Wednesday, when the social media backlash kicked off.
Early Thursday morning, Kering-owned Gucci apologized. It said the $890 women’s sweater had been pulled from its online store and “all physical stores”—though Sky News noted it was still available in at least one third-party online store.
“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make,” 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 Gucci controversy coincides with an on-going scandal in the U.S. state of Virginia, where the governor and attorney general have both admitted to wearing blackface in the past.
Gucci is not the only high-end Italian label to recently get itself into hot water over racism. A few months ago, Dolce & Gabbana had to apologize for an online video campaign that featured an Asian model struggling to eat pizza and cannoli with chopsticks, to a backdrop of lanterns and stereotypical Chinese music, with the Chinese narrator conspicuously mispronouncing the brand’s name.