- Prada, the Italian luxury fashion house, said it would remove a set of monkey-like figures from its stores and displays after facing criticism on social media that they featured racist imagery.
- People have accused the company of using “blackface imagery” in a trinket that looks like a brown monkey with large red lips.
- Exaggerated red lips are a common trait of racist cartoons depicting black people throughout American history.
Prada, the Italian luxury fashion house, said it would remove a set of monkey-like figures from its stores and displays after facing criticism on social media that they featured racist imagery.
One of the trinkets is a brown, monkey-like figure with large red lips that appears to use “blackface imagery,” Chinyere Ezie said in a public Facebook post.
“Today after returning to NYC after a very emotional visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture including an exhibit on blackface, I walked past Prada’s Soho storefront only to be confronted with the very same racist and denigrating #blackface imagery,” Ezie said.
The figure was on display throughout Prada’s store, including in the window display, in larger versions not available to purchase, and on leather accessories, according to photos in Ezie’s post.
The figure, which Prada calls “Otto,” is part of its “Pradamalia” collection, described on its website as “a new family of mysterious tiny creatures that are one part biological, one part technological, all parts Prada.” The “Toto” version of the keychain has a yellow-and-green pattern.
A Prada representative said in a statement to Business Insider on Friday that it would pull the figures from stores and displays.
“Prada Group abhors racist imagery,” the company said. “The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface. We abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery.”
It added: “We will withdraw all of the characters in question from display and circulation.”
Exaggerated red lips are a common trait of racist cartoons depicting black people throughout American history – as are googly eyes, inky skin, and very white teeth – featured in everything from ads and entertainment to children’s books.
“History cannot continue to repeat itself,” Ezie wrote. “Black America deserves better. And we demand better.”
Ezie’s post, which also called for a boycott of Prada, has gone viral on Facebook, with thousands of reactions, comments, and shares.
Others have echoed Ezie’s sentiment.
— Monica (@monicaredwards) December 14, 2018
— Eljo ???????????? (@SenojNG) December 14, 2018
Hey @Prada these photos were brought to my attention as images of blackface are on display in your Soho store in NYC. Have you all lost your minds? Are you all that ignorant of the blatant racist display in your store right now?! See examples side by side! #boycottprada pic.twitter.com/IedslVZRbm
— Calandra Hackney (@landybugnyc) December 14, 2018