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Gucci loves our money, but do they love us? Known as one of the most fashionably influential brands, Gucci has become a mark for living the high and luxurious life. Although there was a long history of the brand not favoring people of color, they learned to sweep those feelings under the rug by personally dressing African American celebrities and later collaborating with Harlem legend Dapper Dan. Gucci extended an olive branch when it came to entertaining diversity but they quickly ripped the branch from our hands and broke it in half with their recent product launch of the blackface turtleneck. The brand is well aware of how much the Black community loves their clothing. With this kind of acknowledgement, you’d think someone would realize the cultural insensitivity of the Balaclava Knit Top that was pulled from the brand’s website and stores after receiving tons of blacklash.
In a statement via Twitter, the brand writes, “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
But do they really respect diversity? Luxury brands carry a lot of power with the products they sell and the marketing tools they use. In 2017, Gucci’s pre-fall campaign featured all Black models
. It is in those moments that I feel the brand truly gets it. But the evidence of moving two steps forward and three steps backward rings true in this situation. Unless you’re completely tone-deaf, you’d know that blackface is deeply rooted in racism. Sadly we are still battling with issues of blackface in schools
, and more recently in our government.
The fact that this turtleneck went through a concept, design, execution and marketing phase without someone saying, “listen folks, something about this seems… racist,” is beyond me. This not only speaks to the lack of diversity of the brand, it screams zero diversity on an internal level. Where is your team that evaluates the racial sensitivity of your products and advertisements? We don’t need Gucci to apologize, we need Gucci to diversify their staff. We saw this a few months ago when Prada released their monkey key chain
with enlarged red lips. Per usual, the brand released a statement apologizing for the design and pulled it from online and in stores.
Personally, I am tired of Twitter statements and generic apologies that never truly address the issues. Pulling the product was a good move, but now that you realize your mistake did you refund those that purchased it? How about a recall? A few months back rapper Swae Lee called for a ban of the brand
. While he gave no insight to why, the question still remains, how long will we continue to support a brand that plays ignorant to the racially charged items that they sell? What changes are being made towards really understanding diversity and the voice of your customers? Will our community stop making companies who don’t respect our history-rich?