Italian luxury fashion brand Gucci has apologized for the outrage surrounding its $980 balaclava sweater resembling“blackface”.

This item has been taken down from their website, and after issuing an apology, Gucci announced major initiatives on their long-term plan of actions designed to further involve cultural diversity and inclusivity in the organization and also the brand’s activities.

The uproar following the sweater led to Dapper Dan, an African-American designer demanding accountability and inclusivity in an organized meeting in New York city Harlem neighborhood to hear out perspectives. Following the conclusion of the meeting, ”Marco Bizzarri, Gucci President and CEO said,

“We accept full accountability for this incident, which has clearly exposed shortfalls in our ongoing strategic approach to embedding diversity and inclusion in both our organization and in our activities, “In the last days we have conducted a thorough review of the circumstances that led to this and have also engaged with all of our stakeholders, most especially our employees and leaders of the African American community, in order to determine immediate actions that will bring greater diversity to key functions in our corporate and regional offices, along with greater cultural awareness throughout our worldwide

organization to avoid similar situations occurring in the future.”

Gucci also leased to the public four initiatives to promote cultural diversity and inclusivity within the brands.

These are based on the following highlights;

Talent Hiring;

Global and regional directors for diversity and inclusion.

Multicultural design scholarship program.

Global Learning;

Diversity and inclusivity awareness program.

Global exchange program.

The multicultural design scholarship program will be launched in Beijing, Beirut, Dubai, Hang Zhou London, Nairobi, New York, New Delhi, Tokyo, and Seoul. Described as a 12-month intensive and fast-track program that can result in permanent employment.

Alessandro Michele, Gucci creative director apologized on behalf of Gucci and says the apparel was inspired by the flamboyant costumes and face make-up by Leigh Bowey and not Blackface.

Bizzarri expressed his gratitude towards Dapper Dan’s effort in bringing community leaders together to offer counsel to the luxury brand at this heated time.

Gucci is not the only fashion brand to be accused of selling a product that invokes blackface. In December, Prada was received heat for a window display in its New York SoHo boutique of keychain charm that looked like a monkey with a prominent red mouth, Prada also apologized, took down the display, announced it would no longer sell the $550 keychain and made a commitment to create an advisory council to guide the brand’s efforts on diversity, inclusion and culture.

Image via @lawyrgrrl

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