Another week, another luxury brand in hot water over an alleged racism controversy.
This time it's luxury fashion brand Prada, which says it will stop selling a $US550 ($766) monkey figurine after it was likened to racist caricatures historically used to dehumanise black people.
The monkeys were part of Prada's new "Pradamalia" line of small items such as key rings and toys featuring cartoon creatures. The black and brown versions have oversized red lips, a traditional hallmark of "blackface".
Suffice to say, the reaction to the range was swift, and negative. Quasi online fashion police Diet Prada, which partly takes its name from the brand, questioned why such controversies keep happening at luxury brands.
"Many are comparing 'Otto', a resulting mutation of one of Prada's oldest mascots, the monkey, to Little Sambo, a children's book character from 1899, who exemplified the pickaninny style of blackface caricature," wrote Diet Prada's Lindsey Schuyler and Tony Liu.
The pair said that although Prada had been a leader in the fashion industry for diversity, particularly through model casting and the use of non-white creative talent on campaigns, "understanding how to navigate the nuances of how the world perceives racism is [more important]".
The company issued a statement apologising for the figures and saying they would be removed from sale.
"They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface," the company said. "Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery. In this interest, we will withdraw all of the characters in question from display and circulation."
On Saturday morning, Prada's website was down and it had also removed all references to the figurine on its social media channels.
This marks the latest instance of a fashion house using imagery that's at best tone-deaf, at worst, racist and exploitative. In November, Dolce & Gabbana angered Chinese customers with a video ad campaign that showed a Chinese model struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks.
Swedish apparel chain H&M apologised after it featured a black child modelling a hoodie with the text, "Coolest monkey in the jungle". Some of its South African stores were vandalised and had to be closed temporarily.
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