- Janelle Griffith
Spike Lee, T.I. boycott Gucci, Prada over 'blackface' fashion
Spike Lee said he will no longer wear Prada or Gucci until the brands "hire some black designers" after the Italian fashion houses pulled products criticized as racist.
Lee said on Instagram that "it's obvious" that "they don't have a clue" when it comes to "racist, blackface hateful imagery."
Last week, Gucci stopped selling its $890 balaclava black-knit women's sweater that could be pulled up over the lower half of the wearer’s face. The sweater included bright red lips as a cut-out for the mouth.
The sweater was being sold in Gucci stores and online before social media users denounced it as resembling blackface imagery. The criticism comes as old photos of prominent Virginia politicians in blackface have embroiled the country in debate.
The Italian company released a statement Wednesday saying it "deeply apologizes for the offense caused."
It added: "We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond."
Prada apologized in December for bag charms and window displays featuring monkey-like characters with outsize red lips, also slammed for resembling blackface.
Lee was among those on social media to respond to Gucci's apology by imploring the brand and Prada to employ more black people to avoid similar episodes by being "in the room when" design decisions are made.
Rapper T.I. said that, as a longtime customer of the brand who spends tens of thousands of dollars a year on its products, an apology was not enough.
“APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED!!!! We ain’t going for this ‘oops my bad I didn’t mean to be racist and disrespectful towards your people,’” he wrote on Instagram Friday.
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., called for a boycott of the brand until it learned to value business from black customers.
“If we stop buying ANYTHING they MUST correct any and ALL of our concerns,” he said. “That’s THE ONLY WAY we can get some RESPECT PUT ON OUR NAME!!!!”
He followed up his criticism of Gucci and Prada with suggestions of several black-owned fashion businesses to support, including Amir James and ServedFresh.
Soulja Boy, Waka Flocka and Russell Simmons weighed in with similar criticism of Gucci and Prada.