Boycotts Begin Against Gucci After Racist Sweater Scandal

Ariel Parrella-Aureli
February 08, 2019 - 5:08 pm

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It's been a newsworthy week revolving around blackface scandals. Italian luxury brand Gucci is the latest to be caught in a negative stir about racial imagery. And now, the aftereffects have spiraled to calls for boycotting the company.

On Feb. 6, the fashion brand released a black Balaclava knit sweater with a long turtleneck that pulled over the chin and nose to make room for the mouth, ringed with red lips. The sweater was blasted on social media for its similarities to blackface, which comes just after heat from Virginia for a similar controversy. The governor has been under fire for a photo of someone in his yearbook page dressing up as blackface and another person in a KKK robe.

He has been urged to resign but announced that he will not; instead, he apologized and called for honest conversations about race in our country. 

"I believe this moment can be the first small step to open a discussion about these difficult issues," Northam said in a press conference.

Gucci also apologized after the sweater backlash and discontinued the sweater online and at physical locations, including the Chicago flagship store at 900 N. Michigan Ave. The company said on Twitter that it is sorry for the offense caused by the jumper and considers diversity a fundamental value that is upheld, respected and prominent in its fashion and business decisions. It called the experience a "learning moment" for the company.

The sweater was $890 on Gucci's site, according to a MarketWatch article that shows a Getty Image of the item description before it was pulled.

The article has attracted criticism from high-profile movie director Spike Lee: How can a fashion line that thrives on detail and innovation miss an important social issue? 

Lee, who has worn Gucci in the past at film award shows, announced on Instagram that he is boycotting the fashion company until it hires black designers to give accurate representation. He also called out Prada, which withdrew products last year after some items displayed in a Manhattan storefront were seen as depicting blackface imagery. 

 "It's Obvious To Da Peoples That They Don't Have A Clue When It Comes To Racist, Blackface Hateful Imagery. WAKE UP," Lee wrote.

His message is resounding especially now, when award season is upon us and many attendees wear luxury fashion brands such as Gucci and Prada. Will his boycotting influence other famous names in the business to take a stand against racial insensitivities? It remains to be seen, but meanwhile, users on social media are also standing up to the fashion giants.

I,Spike Lee Of Sound Mind And Body Will No Longer Wear Prada Or Gucci Until They Hire Some Black Designers " To Be In Da Room When It Happens". It's Obvious To Da Peoples That They Don't Have A Clue When It Comes To Racist, Blackface Hateful Imagery. WAKE UP. Ya-Dig? Sho-Nuff. And Dat's Da "Coonery And Buffoonery” Truth,Ruth.

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Some argue that while this shocking controversy has upset many people, others saw this coming from a brand whose audience is mostly rich, white and upper class. And it's not the first time Gucci created a controversial product. Last year, a model showed off a piece of the women's Fall/Winter 2018-2019 collection, presented during the Milan Fashion Week: a face warmer with a large slit for lips, very similar to the sweater.