Gucci has removed a jumper from sale after it was criticized for resembling "blackface".
The Italian fashion house came under fire after it advertised a black knitted "balaclava jumper" which covered the lower half of the face and featured a cutout around the mouth surrounded by a red lips design.
Many took to social media to accuse the designers, led by creative director Alessandro Michele, of creating a product which resembles "blackface," and on Thursday morning (07Feb19), a spokesperson issued an apology and confirmed that the item would be withdrawn from sale.
"Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores," they said. "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."
The Gucci team listed the jumper on their website for $890 (£688) and they wrote in the product description, "Inspired by vintage ski masks, multicolored knitted balaclavas walked the runway, adding a mysterious feel to this collection... The fall/winter 2018 runway show space reflected the stark environment of an operating room, emulating the theme of the collection where reconstructing materials and fabrics created a new identity."
They received backlash on Twitter, with one user writing, "BAN @gucci THIS IS BLACKFACE," a second posting, "So @gucci puts out a sweater that looks like blackface......On Black History Month...." and a third tweeting, "THIIIIIIIS is blackface guys. THIS. huge overdramatic red lips and a literal BLACK face. This is DISGUSTING. I don't wanna see any of you with Gucci belts and slides after this."
The Gucci controversy comes weeks after Prada withdrew items from its Pradamalia collection following complaints that they contained "racist and denigrating blackface imagery".