Last week, Gucci apologized for a black sweater that, worn together with a matching balaclava, would give the appearance of Blackface. After an outcry, the products were removed from the website and stores. Following a public apology from the brand and an internal company memo, Creative Director Alessandro Michele has now broken his silence about the incident to his Gucci colleagues.
"It's important for me to let you know that the jumper actually had very specific references, completely different from what was ascribed instead," Michele writes to his colleagues in a memo shared on Fashionista. "It was a tribute to Leigh Bowery, to his camouflage art, to his ability to challenge the bourgeois conventions and conformism, to his eccentricity as a performer, to his extraordinary vocation to masquerade meant as a hymn to freedom.
"The fact that, contrarily to my intentions, that turtle-neck jumper evoked a racist imagery causes me the greatest grief," he continues. "But I am aware that sometimes our actions can end up with causing unintentional effects. It is therefore necessary taking full accountability for these effects."
The designer concludes his letter, writing: "I really shelter the suffer of all I have offended. And I am heartfully sorry for this hurt. I hope I can rely on the understanding of those who know me and can acknowledge the constant tension towards the celebration of diversity that has always shaped my work. This is the only celebration I'm willing to stand for."
Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri addressed the matter to employees in a separate memo earlier this week. "We made a mistake. A big one," he said. "Because of cultural ignorance, but ignorance is not an excuse. And we accept responsibility for this mistake. Yet there is no way of thinking nor believing that this could have ever been intentional."