The fashion industry is known for a lot of things and diversity hasn’t exactly been one of them. And the recent wave of Blackface and racial insensitivity scandals with some of the most well-known brands is proof of that.
From Burberry to Gucci, over the past few years, a number of major fashion houses have been forced to apologize for major missteps when it comes to incorporating blackface or offensive messages in their designs.
Here are some of the most recent racially insensitive moments in the fashion industry:
Burberry Apologizes for Noose Hoodie
Burberry officials were forced to apologize Wednesday after sending a model down the runway in this “suicide” hoodie, complete with a noose around the neckline. Model Liz Kennedy reportedly attempted to criticize the design’s nod to the “horrifying history of lynching” but was told to “write a letter” in response instead.
Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti apologized for the design, saying the brand was “deeply sorry for the distress” caused.
“It was insensitive and we made a mistake,” he said.
Gucci Pulls Sambo Sweater
Just days before Burberry’s noose hoodie, Gucci pulled this Black turtleneck called the “balaclava jumper,” which featured exaggerated red lips around a covering for the mouth.
Social media exploded for the similarity of the design to blackface characters, well known for their oversize lips and dark skin on drawings and in makeup.
Gucci has since apologized, saying: “We deeply apologize 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.”
The brand has also promised to work on its diversity and cultural awareness practices.
Prada Apologizes for Monkey Design
In December of last year, luxury house Prada found itself in a similar mess when they debuted the designs for these monkey characters in store windows and accessories.
Called “Pradamalia,” the monkeys in the collection conjured images of racist stereotypes of blackface with oversize lips and dark skin.
Prada later pulled the design and has since announced initiatives to embrace inclusion including the hiring of A Wrinkle in Time and 13th director Ava DuVernay as co-chair of a diversity council.
Katy Perry Forced to Explain Herself
Singer and shoe designer Katy Perry was at the center of another fashion backlash earlier this month for a pair of mules that featured designs similar to blackface.
While Perry insisted there was no connection to blackface, saying they were “envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism,” she apologized to anyone offended by the design. Since then, the shoes have been pulled from retailers like WalMart and Dillard’s.
Moncler Releases Blackface Puffer Coat
Outerwear company Moncler pulled one of its designs in late 2016 after social media users and the press noted that the design resembled Sambo imagery.
The company later said the character was a penguin named Malfi, designed by Friends With You as part of their collaboration.
H&M Sorry for Calling Black Child a Monkey
In early 2018, H&M found themselves at the center of a social media firestorm after an e-commerce posting featured a young black boy in a sweatshirt that said “coolest monkey in the jungle.” For many customers, the words conjured up a painful history of black people being referred to as monkeys. It didn’t help that another shirt featured a young white boy in a similar jungle-themed sweatshirt that read “survival expert.”
Almost immediately, celebrities like The Weeknd cut ties with the brand and boycotts spread on social media like wildfire. The company later apologized and pulled the shirt and all ads featuring it.
“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print,” they said in a statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”