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'We deeply apologise': Gucci pulls balaclava sweater after 'blackface' claims

"Happy Black History Month y'all," one African American fashionista tweeted ironically, with others pointing out the resemblance to a golliwog.

'We deeply apologise': Gucci pulls balaclava sweater after 'blackface' claims

Screengrabs of Gucci's black balaclava sweater on its website. (Photos: Twitter/Rashida)

Gucci pulled a black polo neck sweater from its shops on Thursday (Feb 8) after it sparked comparisons with racially offensive golliwog and "blackface" imagery.

The "balaclava jumper" can be pulled up to the eyes with the mouth visible through large red lips.

"Happy Black History Month y'all," one African American fashionista tweeted ironically, with others pointing out the resemblance to a golliwog.

Social media users were quick to express outrage, with some on Twitter being a little more creative with their exasperation.

It is the third Italian brand to be hit in recent months by race rows, after Prada was forced to pull a line of accessories in December because of their resemblance to blackface imagery.

Dolce & Gabbana are reeling from a boycott in China after a calamitous advertising campaign of a Chinese woman struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks that was decried as racist.

The label's co-founder Stefano Gabbana appeared to add fuel to the fire with a private Instagram exchange in which he used a smiling turd emoji to describe the country and referred to "China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia".

D&G insisted his account was hacked.

Gucci, however, was quick to pull the jumper, issuing a statement within hours of the first posts questioning it.

"We deeply apologise for the offence caused by the wool balaclava jumper," it said. "We confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores.

"We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond," the brand added.

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