Companies take whatever precautions they need to stay afloat. Some do this by switching up their style, and others might collaborate with another company or person of influence to broaden their likeness and brand. In the fashion industry, people are always constantly utilizing both of these tricks for the companies benefit. In the latest wave of products,the high-class fashion line Gucci has decided to release a black face sweater.
The reason why many are quick to call this specific $890 item a racist mess-up is that the sweater itself comes all the way up to the model’s nose, and has red lips that are similar to the early imagery of blackface, where white actors would paint their faces black and their lips big and red. At the same time, they made fun of African Americans and their stereotypes, portraying them typically as lesser and unintellectual, even though that’s clearly untrue.
According to Fashionista.com, one person who was giving their input posted a photo of the sweater on Twitter, captioning it, “Happy Black History month Y’all,” as a kind of tongue-in-cheek response due to the fact that the fashion line dropped it during the highly empowering Black History Month.
Many Celebrities and Artists did not waste any time denouncing the hot streetwear brand. According to hip-hop magazine XXL, a recent example of someone (was rapper 50 Cent who, on video, decided to burn a pile of his Gucci clothes on his Instagram. Other rappers such as T.I. and Big Draco himself, Soulja Boy also went through great strides to try to distance themselves from the popular brand. Soulja already started the process of getting his Gucci forehead tattoo removed, telling TMZ “I’ve started the process (of getting the tattoo removed) but I gotta go three times, three more times.” The same video also referenced something Soulja Boy had said earlier, “Until further notice, Gucci is canceled, I’m shocked and I’m appalled and I feel disrespected.”
T.I. gave a long and in-depth speech about the situation over his Instagram live and led the charge for this whole boycott, saying, “Gucci, as a sevenfigure-a-year customer and longtime supporter of your brand, I must say… Y’all got us f***** up! Apology not accepted! We ain’t going for this ‘Oops, my bad, I didn’t mean to be racist and disrespectful towards your people’ s***! Y’all knew what the f*** y’all was doing and we ain’t going for it! We all gotta stop buying, wearing, and supporting this piece of s*** company, and all piece of s*** companies until they learn to respect our dollars and value our business! Our culture runs this s***! We [People of color] spend 1.25 trillion dollars a year and if we stop buying anything, they must correct any and all of our concerns. That’s the only way we can get some respect put on our name! I Don’t Give a f*** if I gotta wear Target brand s***… #F***Gucci.”
A plethora of other influencers have shown their support for the boycott, such as Russell Simmons, Waka Flocka Flame, and Jean Grae, to name a few. Influencer Mikey Factz also brought to public attention that Prada released a monkey keychain in early December that also contained big red lips and black hair.
Gucci’s head creative director released a statement saying, “The fact that, contrarily to my intentions, that turtle-neck jumper evoked racist imagery causes me the greatest grief, but I am aware that sometimes, our actions can end up with causing unintentional effects. It is, therefore, necessary [that I am] taking full accountability for these effects. It’s important for me to let you know that the jumper actually had very specific references, completely different from what was ascribed instead, It was a tribute to Leigh Bowery, to his camouflage art, to his ability to challenge the bourgeois conventions and conformism, to his eccentricity as a performer, to his extraordinary vocation to masquerade meant as a hymn to freedom.” Gucci themselves also released a statement saying ,”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.”
Do you think this boycott has enough leverage to end the Gucci brand or should people forgive Gucci for their mess up?
Joseph Guzman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org