“I am a Black man before I am a brand. Another fashion house has gotten it outrageously wrong. There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult,” Dapper Dan said on Instagram. “The CEO of Gucci has agreed to come from Italy to Harlem this week to meet with me, along with members of the community and other industry leaders. There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable.”
After an avalanche of criticism last week, Gucci ended sales of its $890 balaclava black-knit women’s sweater that could be pulled up over the lower half of the wearer’s face. It featured signature bright red lips associated with blackface as a cut-out for the mouth.
The garment was being sold at the start of Black History Month and against the backdrop of Virginia’s Democratic governor and attorney general admitting to wearing blackface in the 1980s.
One would think that Gucci would have learned from Prada, which used blackface imagery for its “Pradamalia” collection in December. It was available online and in at least one of its New York City stores but pulled after a backlash.
Spike Lee recently issued his personal protest on Instagram against the luxury brands: “I, Spike Lee Of Sound Mind And Body Will No Longer Wear Prada Or Gucci Until They Hire Some Black Designers To Be In Da Room When It Happens. It’s Obvious To Da Peoples That They Don’t Have A Clue When It Comes To Racist, Blackface Hateful Imagery. WAKE UP. Ya-Dig? Sho-Nuff. And Dat’s Da “Coonery And Buffoonery” Truth, Ruth.”
In 2017, Gucci partnered with Dapper Dan to unveil a brand new store in Harlem similar to the famous Dapper Dan Boutique that closed in 1992, Black Enterprise reported nearly two years ago. Gucci found itself in the middle of a firestorm for appropriating Dapper Dan’s style for its Resort 2018 collection, which included a fur bomber jacket with puffy sleeves that was far too similar to a Louis Vuitton monogrammed jacket the African-American fashion designer created in the 1980s.