Gucci Blackface Sweater

snoopy

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You know it is possible they were not at all going for blackface and it was an unintended similarity.

Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth.
 

modern_muslimah

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You know it is possible they were not at all going for blackface and it was an unintended similarity.

Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I doubt it was intentional as well. However, it still doesn't negate the the effect. I wonder how many POC are on Gucci's design and PR teams. I feel like if there was more diversity, maybe someone would have pointed out that this sweater was really bad taste before it ever hit stores. Plus, this is part of a larger trend of the fashion industry being racially insensitive.
 

Zemgirl

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I doubt it was intentional as well. However, it still doesn't negate the the effect. I wonder how many POC are on Gucci's design and PR teams. I feel like if there was more diversity, maybe someone would have pointed out that this sweater was really bad taste before it ever hit stores. Plus, this is part of a larger trend of the fashion industry being racially insensitive.
The creative director of Gucci is Alessandro Michele, and he is Italian. I have no idea who designed or was otherwise involved with this particular item. I imagine they thought it was fun, and ended up with silly (if one is unaware of the connotations of blackface in the US) and highly inappropriate (if one is aware of it).

Obviously the use of blackface in the US has a very ugly history, and it's widely understood now that it is deeply offensive and inappropriate. Though recent controversies suggest that some people were late in coming to this understanding.

Other countries have their own social and cultural history, and blackface was not prominently used (or used as a tool to support white supremacy). As a result, not everyone knows or fully grasps how racially insensitive it is.

Gucci, as a global brand, must understand that what it designs and sells does not carry the same meaning across cultures. They failed in this case. I guess it remains to be seen what they'll learn from it.
 

caseyedwards

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Gucci doesn’t necessarily have to be diverse! It can hire a firm that Checks all its products and advertising for racial or sexual insensitivity
 

Zemgirl

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I still don't know how that sweater came about, but balaclavas with exaggerated lips were part of Gucci's Fall 2018 collection, shown almost a year ago. There's one look there that I'm surprised didn't result in controversy at the time, as it is quite like the sweater. There are some quotes from Michele regarding the collection in the link.

The most expensive clothing/footwear I own are my skates, so I really don't get fashion design and why people would pay that much for a sweater, ugly or otherwise.
 

Tinami Amori

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in any color, it is a dumb idea, and useless in terms of practicality. i don't think Gucci intended it to be "racial", that would be a suicide .. :lol:
 

FiveRinger

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As a chocolate girl, I didn't find this sweater racially offensive. It was just a fug sweater. It comes in several other colors, all of which are still fug, and impractical. Personally, I think people are reaching. If the blackface situation(s) in Virginia hadn't occurred, MSM would have given less than a damn about this unfortunate looking sweater.
 

Vash01

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in any color, it is a dumb idea, and useless in terms of practicality. i don't think Gucci intended it to be "racial", that would be a suicide .. :lol:
I am sure they did not intend it to be racial but they were unaware of how it could be perceived. I didn’t think of race when I saw that ridiculous sweater, but obviously some did. I still don’t understand why.
 

MacMadame

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I didn’t think of race when I saw that ridiculous sweater, but obviously some did. I still don’t understand why.
It's because there is a history of people dressing up as African Americans by painting their face black and drawing on enormous really red lips and they do this to mock.

I often find a lot of the controversies about clothing to be much ado about nothing, but I was shocked when I saw this sweater. I wouldn't have been if it was just black without big red lips or if was another color with big red lips but the combo was just too much.

This article start with a picture that show the big red lips with black skin that makes up blackface:

https://face2faceafrica.com/article/the-history-of-blackface-and-why-even-black-people-cant-wear-it

The rest of the article talks about black face its history and questions whether even AA people can wear it (It's Drake in the picture. He is of African descent but is from Canada where I don't think blackface has the same connotations as in the US.) But mostly I'm posting it because the picture invokes the same imagery as the sweeter IMO.
 

Vagabond

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He is of African descent but is from Canada where I don't think blackface has the same connotations as in the US.)
Black minstrelsy was as much a part of popular culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Canada as it was in the United States, and blackface has the same connotations there as in the United States.

https://www.mcgill.ca/aapr/blackface-canada
 
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Vash01

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It's because there is a history of people dressing up as African Americans by painting their face black and drawing on enormous really red lips and they do this to mock.

I often find a lot of the controversies about clothing to be much ado about nothing, but I was shocked when I saw this sweater. I wouldn't have been if it was just black without big red lips or if was another color with big red lips but the combo was just too much.

This article start with a picture that show the big red lips with black skin that makes up blackface:

https://face2faceafrica.com/article/the-history-of-blackface-and-why-even-black-people-cant-wear-it

The rest of the article talks about black face its history and questions whether even AA people can wear it (It's Drake in the picture. He is of African descent but is from Canada where I don't think blackface has the same connotations as in the US.) But mostly I'm posting it because the picture invokes the same imagery as the sweeter IMO.
Thank you for explaining. This looks really bad. Whoever designed this sweater was familiar with Blackface. No wonder it created such outrage.

I don’t buy Gucci because of their high prices but if I had the money I may not want to buy Gucci.
 

taf2002

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Ski masks look much more like blackface than that sweater which IMO doesn't look like blackface at all. I imagine that the people who 1st saw it said "how ugly" not "how offensive".
 

Zemgirl

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Thank you for explaining. This looks really bad. Whoever designed this sweater was familiar with Blackface. No wonder it created such outrage.
As I wrote earlier, you can't assume that a European designer would be familiar with blackface and its history. If you look at the collection that it seems to be derived from, there were similar items in other colors (here's a non-blackface balaclava, for instance). To me this suggests that if anything, the designer was not familiar with blackface and its implications.

Gucci should have had someone on the team to notice it, though. Just like some authors and publishers now employ sensitivity readers, perhaps fashion houses could consider something similar.
 
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Wow. I find this ironic because whenever I go to Gucci (especially their local outlet), many of their customers are of color. Creating a racially offensive sweater would cause Gucci to lose a lot of revenue from a target audience who really likes their brand.

As I wrote earlier, you can't assume that a European designer would be familiar with blackface and its history. If you look at the collection that it seems to be derived from, there were similar items in other colors (here's a non-blackface balaclava, for instance). To me this suggests that if anything, the designer was not familiar with blackface and its implications.

Gucci should have had someone on the team to notice it, though. Just like some authors and publishers now employ sensitivity readers, perhaps fashion houses could consider something similar.
 

FiveRinger

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As I wrote earlier, you can't assume that a European designer would be familiar with blackface and its history. If you look at the collection that it seems to be derived from, there were similar items in other colors (here's a non-blackface balaclava, for instance). To me this suggests that if anything, the designer was not familiar with blackface and its implications.

Gucci should have had someone on the team to notice it, though. Just like some authors and publishers now employ sensitivity readers, perhaps fashion houses could consider something similar.
There seems to be a lot of cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity in this collection that goes beyond blackface. The sad part is that we will see people wear this stuff, many f them unaware of how offensive it is. And moreover, Gucci isn’t worried about it. The groups that are offended are not really the target market, are they? If they were, and they had done even the slightest bit of research or, better yet, had a more diverse PR department or Board of Directors, none of this garbage would have even made it from the sketch pad. Diversity and inclusivity should not be superficial and needs to extend beyond having multiethnic models on the runway. Gucci has been totally irresponsible.
 
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Zemgirl

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There seems to be a lot of cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity in this collection that goes beyond blackface. The sad part is that we will see people wear this stuff, many f them unaware of how offensive it is.
I would imagine that those responsible for the collection see it as an homage, not appropriation. What is considered socially and culturally inappropriate in the US may not be seen as such in other countries. Obviously a global brand must take into account all its target audiences, however, and cannot assume that its own cultural context will apply elsewhere.

Reportedly Alessandro Michele is writing a personal letter addressing the controversy. I'm very interested in reading what he has to say about the process that led to this and what he intends to do going forward.
 

Simone411

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Well, personally, I could make a scarf to wrap up with using a knitting needle and yarn. Total cost would be anywhere from 4 to 10 dollars depending on how many colors you wish to use and how long the scarf would be. I can think of a lot other things to use that 900 dollars on … food, bills, necessities, etc.

To me, the sweater (or jumpsuit) looked awkward. But to each his on. I know there will always be new trends and designs, but I would never buy that even if it were much cheaper than that. I truly don't believe that the designer had any ill intentions in mind. It covered half the face. It didn't cover the whole face like a ski mask would. I believe she had warmth in mind (protecting that part of the face from the cold and other elements). She sounded sincere about who was the inspiration of the design which was Leigh Bowery.
 

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