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After Gucci started trying to sell a polo neck jumper, as part of the company’s 2018 autumn/winter collection, there was a ruckus on social media. The reason people posted images on Instagram and Twitter of the new jumper was that they believed it resembled “blackface.”

Priced at $890 (£689), the black “balaclava” knit has a polo neck but also covers the lower half of the wearer’s face, with a cut out for the mouth, lined with huge red lips.

Polo neck jersey draws criticism

Twitter and Instagram were alive on Wednesday with images of the strange and controversial design. Several made a comment to say it is currently Black History Month in America, making the jersey even more controversial.

One Twitter user commented about the balaclava knit top, saying Happy Black History Month y’all,” adding two photos of a woman wearing the jersey.

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Another Twitter user blamed Gucci for a lack of diversity in their organisation.

Gucci apologises for jumper

As noted by Cosmopolitan, after criticism was rife over the jumper, the Italian Fashion brand posted an apology and said the polo neck jumper would be taken off their website.

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In their apology, they said they consider diversity a fundamental value that should be fully respected, upheld and at the forefront of each decision they make.

They continued by saying how fully committed they were to increasing the diversity within their organisation. Gucci said they would use the outrage over the jumper as a “powerful learning moment” for their team.

While the jumper is no longer on Gucci’s website, archived product information said the item was “inspired by vintage ski masks,” which they said added a “mysterious feel” to the Autumn/Winter collection.

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Gucci not alone in ‘blackface’ controversies

As reported by the Guardian, other luxury fashion lines have been in trouble recently. Prada had a similar incident in December, where a number of their fashion items were withdrawn over criticism that they depicted blackface. One particular item was Pradamalia keychains that looked like black monkeys with large red lips, as one Twitter user pointed out.

A fashion show by Dolce & Gabbana was delayed in Shanghai following accusations of racism. Prior to the event, the company released a promo video showing a Chinese model eating pizza and pasta using chopsticks. People in China were not impressed and a number of retailers in that country withdrew Dolce & Gabbana products from their shelves.