Gucci has issued an apology for selling a wool balaclava jumper that many accused of resembling blackface.
The £688 jumper has a red outline to go around the wearer’s mouth, familiar of golliwog imagery.
Images of the piece of knitwear were shared on Twitter and criticised by thousands of people, who called the design ‘unacceptable’ and ‘racist’.
One person on Twitter wrote: ‘Ah yes, blackface but make it fashion huh?’
Another said: ‘This shit is absolutely unacceptable and @gucci needs to get rid of this shit IMMEDIATELY and apologize to OUR [Black] community.
‘The lack of originality and creativity these brands have is absolutely unsettling & the frequent use of black trauma for capital gain is extra gross.’
Early this morning Gucci tweeted an apology for the offence caused by the jumper, writing: ‘Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.
‘We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores.
‘We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be 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.’
On Twitter, the apology hasn’t been good enough for many critics, who question how the jumper was signed off at multiple levels before reaching stores.
‘If you hire more Black people and cultivate an environment where people on all levels of the company feel comfortable to speak up incidents like this will be avoided,’ wrote model Vanessa Veasley.
Gucci isn’t the only fashion brand that’s been accused of racism in recent months.
Dolce & Gabbana cancelled a major show in Shanghai after people threatened to boycott the brand for their ‘eating with chopsticks’ video series, which was accused of relying on ‘racist stereotypes’.
Could it be that racism – and the outrage it inspires – is being used by fashion brands as a marketing tool?