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Update #2, February 12: On Monday evening, Fashionista published an internal memo circulated among Gucci employees.
In the statement, CEO Marco Bizzarri says "We made a mistake. A big one. Because of cultural ignorance, but ignorance is not an excuse. And we accept responsibility for this mistake. Yet there is no way of thinking nor believing that this could have ever been intentional."
Bizzarri continued: "We have created a shared corporate culture that makes us unique. From the very start in 2015, all that we have stood for and all that we have achieved on a daily basis has been driven by these values and has been defining this chapter for our brand. Above all, respect for others, celebrating diversity through inclusivity and with creativity at the heart of everything we do."
"This process takes time, as any behavioral change does, evolving every day and mistakes may happen along the way. We thought we were standing in a better position, and we need to recognize that we are not."
The statement also hints that creative director Alessandro Michele will also address the issue.
"I am a Black man before I am a brand," he wrote. "Another fashion house has gotten it outrageously wrong. There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult. The CEO of Gucci has agreed to come from Italy to Harlem this week to meet with me, along with members of the community and other industry leaders. There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable."
This story was originally published on February 7, 2019.
Late Wednesday, Gucci apologized on Twitter after one of its products sparked outrage for its resemblance to blackface. "Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper," the brand's statement began. "We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and physical stores."
The statement continues: "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."
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.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/P2iXL9uOhs
— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019
Many criticized the fact that the sweater was black with red around the mouth, resembling lips. The matching hat to the balaclava is also black, and when worn together would give the appearance of Blackface.
This incident comes on the heels of similar accusations that Prada's keychains resembled blackface. Those products, part of the brand's Pradamalia line, were pulled after images surfaced of some merchandise depicting monkey-like figures with black faces and large red lips.
Refinery29 reached out to Gucci for additional comment on the matter; they had no further statement.
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