Gucci creative director breaks silence amid controversy

Madeline Hanna and Riley Sharp

Gucci, one of the most famous and popular luxury fashion brand is known for creating new and irresistible, code-breaking fashion that captivates consumers.

In doing so, they have been able to sell their merchandise at extremely high prices.

Their business has flourished tremendously in the past few decades, bringing top of the line designs to celebrities and influencial people of power.

Gucci faced backlash with their newest fashion release, earlier this month. The prominent brand released a black turtleneck with a design that has been compared to blackface, a common racial insult.

Not only is the design of the sweater not a normal as far as turtlenecks go, but also because the end of the turtleneck sits right under the eyes.

The bizarre design’s focal point is the lips that are cut out, allowing the wearer to have their lips exposed.

Before the dust could settle, Gucci apologized, claiming that they never thought or wanted to have offended

anyone, saying in a public apology on their website, “Gucci deeply apologizes 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 luxury brand took full ownership for it’s actions continuing, “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”

In the past week, Gucci’s stock as taken a small hit from the controversy.

The luxury fashion industry itself has taken many hits in the past decade, forcing themselves or reconsider their brand guidelines and selling points.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, the creative director of Gucci finally broke his silence from the controversy.

Alessandro Michele, a design force at the Italian Fashion House, lamented in a letter to employees both his own pain and “that of the people who saw in one of my creative projects an intolerable insult.”

Michele said in a public annoucement that he takes “full accountability” for the sweater, which was pulled later last week amid the criticism.

Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s president and CEO, told Women’s Wear Daily, “The lack of knowledge of diversity and the consequent understanding are not at the level we expected, despite all the efforts we did inside the company in the last four years.”

Gucci is now reevaluating the processes their designs undergo to ensure the right level of awareness and visibility is being met.

While fashion in the past has been at the forefront of addressing sexual norms – Gucci has been working to redefine itself, inventing new genderless dress codes – the industry has fallen far behind others in taking on social justice issues such as racial intolerance and women’s empowerment.

According to Larry Chiagouris, marketing professor at Pace University in New York City, “It is not clear why this is, but the evidence clearly points to the fashion industry’s need … to catch up with the rest of the world.”

As more light gets shed on these fashion brands, the fashion industry itself could undergo a swift transition into the modern understanding of social injustices and obligatory respect to people of all cultures, genders and races.

Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post was used in this report.