If you think Klan robes are the only thing at the center of the Venn diagram between apparel and racism, you're obviously not familiar with the recent racist renaissance in the world of fashion.
Back in December, Prada stopped selling a keychain figurine and removed a storefront window display featuring a monkey with red lips which looked eerily similar to old racist caricatures of black people. It retailed for $550, making it the racist monkey for the upscale socialite.
And it seems counterintuitive, but it's never a good sign when your celebrity clothing line is making headlines. It usually means that the Malaysian children sewing your blouses snuck a plea for help into the washing instructions tag. Or it's because you've somehow found a way to make women's shoes that look like the stars of a Vaudevillian minstrel act. Katy Perry found this out when people got pissed that a pair of her heels and loafers featured red lips and bright white eyes on a black leather backdrop that looked astonishingly like blackface, because yes, it very did.
Meanwhile, Gucci swooped in to get in on the action with a baklava knit top that looked astonishingly like, get this, blackface. It's a sweater with a turtleneck that stretches up to the bridge of the nose. There's a hole in it that exposes the wearer's mouth. Around that mouth, again set against that black backdrop, is a big red pair of cartoon lips. You can almost hear the room of white designers patting themselves on the back for getting high behind the bleachers during history class!
Then, Burberry had one of their models walk the runway with a fashionable noose around her neck, drawing comparisons to lynchings and suicides. The pictures are probably drumming up enough publicity that next year, we'll see a model wearing a jaunty chapeau that looks like her head is in a tiny oven.
All these brands quickly issued apologies, assuring people they didn't intend to offend. But when many, many levels of designers and executives see such obvious totems of hate and do nothing, people can only assume that either A) the garment was designed to drum up controversy, or B) everybody in a position of power within these companies is just that fucking dumb. Neither scenario is great.
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