Legendary fashion house Gucci has pulled a turtleneck shirt from it's website after complaints that the sweater, which can be pulled up over the face, could be seen as "blackface."
The $890 "balaclava jumper" features a pair of red lips tucked inside the neck of the black sweater. Wearers can pulled the neck of the sweater up and over their own lips if they want to keep their cheeks warm in cold weather, or if they enjoy looking a little like a lunatic in their streetwear.
Some social media users quickly noted that the lips detail made wearers look as if they were donning minstrel show-style blackface (and to top it off, Gucci introduced the top during Black History Month).
Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all. pic.twitter.com/HA7sz7xtOQ— Rashida (@fuckrashida) February 6, 2019
Gucci issued a statement Thursday apologizing for the sweater. The fashion brand said it "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," the brand said in a statement poster to social media. "We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores."
The item no longer appears for sale on Gucci's website.
Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019
We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/P2iXL9uOhs
Gucci called the controversy a "powerful learning moment," though some social media users were left to wonder how no one in Gucci's many-layered fashion house saw how closely the sweater resembled blackface makeup before the product hit the market.
Gucci is not the first high-end fashion house to find themselves in hot water over a racially charged product. In fact, it's not even the first brand to release a strange, offensive product this year.
Luxury brand Prada was forced to remove a number of its winter accessories from the the windows of its New York City boutique — and then eventually from global sale — after consumers pointed out that the keychain figurines and purse adornments looked suspiciously like 19th century cariactures of African-Americans.
Prada said at the time that their monkey-like accessory was an "imaginary creature" that was "not intended to have any reference to the real world."
"Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery. In this interest we will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation," that company said in a statement.
High-end brand Moschino was accused of "racially profiling" black customers in its Manhattan stores, according to Vox, and a lawsuit, filed against the brand, claims workers at Moschino boutiques used code words, like "Serena," to refer to "suspicious customers."