Racism in Fashion: How Designers Spark Outrage

Racism in Fashion: How Designers Spark Outrage

Fashion is often seen as a form of art and expression, but it can also be a source of controversy and criticism. Over the years, many fashion designers have been accused of racism. Either intentionally or unintentionally, for creating or promoting products that are offensive, insensitive, or appropriative of other cultures. Here are some of the most notorious examples of racism in fashion, and how they have been met with outrage and backlash from the public.

Gucci’s Blackface Sweater

In 2019, Gucci sparked a fiery rage on social media when it released a black turtleneck sweater that featured a cut-out mouth with red lips, resembling the racist caricature of blackface. The sweater, which cost $890, was part of the brand’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection. And was widely condemned as a mockery of black people and their history of oppression. Gucci quickly apologized and removed the sweater from its online and physical stores. And announced a series of initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion within the company. However, many people were not satisfied with the apology. And some celebrities, such as Spike Lee and T.I., called for a boycott of the brand.

Racism in Fashion: How Designers

Racism in Fashion: How Designers Spark Outrage

Prada’s Little Black Sambo Charm

In 2018, Prada faced a similar backlash when it displayed a series of figurines, called Pradamalia, in its New York store. One of the figurines, named Otto, was a black monkey with red lips and a blue jacket. Many people compared it to Little Black Sambo. A derogatory character from a children’s book that depicted black people as savages. Prada apologized and removed the figurines from its store and website, and said that it did not intend to offend anyone. However, the brand was sued by a civil rights lawyer, Chinyere Ezie, who claimed that the figurines caused her emotional distress and violated her human rights. The lawsuit was settled in 2019. Prada agreed to undergo sensitivity training and to create a diversity council.

Dolce & Gabbana’s Anti-Asian Comments

In 2018, Dolce & Gabbana faced a huge backlash in China, one of its biggest markets. After releasing a series of videos and comments that were deemed racist and disrespectful towards Chinese culture. The videos, which were part of a campaign to promote a fashion show in Shanghai, featured a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks, while a male voiceover made condescending remarks. The videos were widely criticized as stereotypical and ignorant. And were followed by a series of screenshots that showed the brand’s co-founder, Stefano Gabbana, making derogatory comments about China and its people on Instagram. The brand apologized and claimed that its account was hacked, but the damage was done. The fashion show was canceled, and many Chinese celebrities, retailers, and customers boycotted the brand.


These are just some of the examples of racism in fashion. Which show that the industry still has a long way to go in terms of diversity, sensitivity, and respect. While some brands have taken steps to address their mistakes and improve their practices, others have been slow or reluctant to change. The public, however, has become more vocal and vigilant in calling out racism in fashion, and demanding accountability and action from the designers.

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