The Real Tea on Gucci's Blackface Sweater Debacle
Can we get Gucci without the blackface please? Thanks .
By Yeunsue Park
Everyone was pretty shook at the idea of having to throw out their fave Gucci slides and Gucci belt. While we all saw the sweater that started all the buzz, there's a little more to the story.
This past month, Gucci began selling a $890 sweater that closely resembled blackface. The brand quickly removed the sweater from sale and published an official apology.
Although it was nice to see Gucci acknowledging their lack of diversity and mishap, the news did not settle well with Dapper Dan, an American fashion designer from Harlem and collaborator of the brand. He took on his own Instagram to state his opinion.
Dan infamously replicated the Italian house’s logo in his designs throughout the 80s and 90s. In 2017, during the Alessandro Michele’s Cruise 2018 collection, Gucci seemingly replicated one of Dan’s previous designs.
Their first collaboration showcased Gucci in Dapper Dan’s element. The entire ready-to-wear collection exuded Harlem aesthetics and old school hip-hop culture. It brought youthful energy to the brand and a newly defined personality for the company which drew the attention of young consumers.
Dan wasn’t the only one mad. Many outraged by Gucci’s ignorance flocked to social media to drag the label and express their opinions.
On Friday, February 15th, Dapper Dan took to Instagram once again to state the outcome of his meeting with Gucci. He says in his post that Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s President and CEO, accepts full accountability for this incident and that four long-term initiatives were to be implemented company wide.
Those four initiatives are hiring Global and Regional Directors for Diversity and Inclusion, establishing a Multicultural Design Scholarship Program, Diversity and Inclusivity Awareness Program, and a Global Exchange Program.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen cultural appropriation hitting major high-end brands, especially with the reference of blackface. Just last December, Prada had to recall one of their Pradamalia series’ collectible keychains because the monkey-inspired design resembled a racist Sambo figure. Prada apologized for their mistake, pulled the keychain from stores, and created an advisory council on diversity issues co-chaired by film director Ava DuVernay and artist Teaster Gates.
Unfortunately, it still requires hindsight for people to initiate change and become increasingly aware of their lack of understanding for different cultures. At the end of the day, what can be appreciated is the fact that people and brands are being held accountable for their mistakes.
This isn’t the first time brands have poorly represented themselves in the sector of diversity and inclusion. Issues like this, shed light on the problematic nature and practices of many of these high-end brands, but at least Gucci and Prada are implement change so they would hopefully not face these issues again.