From Burberry noose shirts to Gucci blackface: When fashion brands got it wrong

20 February 2019 - 12:00 By Odwa Mjo
A Gucci balaclava jacket has been pulled from the shelves after people compared it to blackface.
A Gucci balaclava jacket has been pulled from the shelves after people compared it to blackface.
Image: Gucci

International fashion brands have found themselves in hot water several times for inappropriate designs that triggered widespread outrage.

From blackface looks and noose sweatshirts, here are a few major designers that received backlash for inappropriate and racist designs.

Burberry 

The British luxury brand has come under fire for showcasing a hoodie with a noose during its show at the London Fashion Week. 

The matter was first raised by model Liz Kennedy, who was also part of the show. 

According to CNN, Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti issued an apology, stating: "Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake." 

Gucci  

In early February, the Italian designer brand removed a black polo-neck sweater from their stores after complaints that the design resembled blackface. 

Referred to as the balaclava jumper, the polo neck stretches up to the eyes and has an opening for the mouth which is outlined by thick red lips. 

The designer brand issued an apology on its social media accounts: "We deeply apologise 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." 

Gucci went as far as announcing four initiatives to embed cultural diversity and awareness in the company. 

Prada 

The luxury brand received backlash in December after a monkey key chain at a store in New York resembled blackface. 

The products were part of a line called Pradamalia with some of them resembling monkeys with thick red lips. 

According to Time, Prada appointed film director Ava Duvernay and activist Theaster Gates to co-chair the company's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council in order to “elevate voices of colour within the company and the fashion industry at large.”


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