Following in the wake of Prada's "monkey keychains" that called to mind blackface imagery in December and Balmain's questionable skin-darkening makeup on the couture runway in January, Gucci came under fire on social media for selling a black sweater with red lips.
The knit top featured a turtleneck that could be pulled up to the eyes like a balaclava, and included a hole for the mouth surrounded by large red lips. One commenter on Twitter posted a picture of the sweater, which retailed for $890, with a simple "Happy Black History month y'all," and the internet quickly erupted into a debate over the viral tweet.
While some social media users defended Gucci and called the blackface accusations a reach, Gucci has now validated the original critique by offering an apology for the sweater and swiftly promising to stop selling it.
"Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper," the brand said in a statement released on Twitter. "We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores."
The brand went on to explain that action would be taken to prevent similar missteps in the future, saying, "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."
Whether it executes its aims toward diversity perfectly or not, Gucci's proven once again, as it did with the Dapper Dan controversy in 2017, that it knows how to apologize quickly and effectively.