Luxury fashion brand Prada has pulled a new line of collectible figurines from sale and production after American shoppers drew comparisons between the monkey charms and harmful racist caricatures.
The $765 (US$550) figurines are part of Prada’s new Pradamalia collection, which was released a few weeks ago. It was just yesterday that punters began to notice similarities between the monkeys displayed in Prada’s New York City shop windows and racist “Sambo” imagery.
Chinyere Ezie, author of the tweet above and attorney at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, also posted on Facebook about her strong response to the display.
Others quickly joined her in voicing their disappointment, with many saying that the monkeys bore a clear resemblance to blackface imagery.
So Prada “studied its DNA” to come up with the Pradamalia line and what it apparently found in its chromosomes was…blackface caricature? https://t.co/QI6x8SZIPb— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) December 14, 2018
What on earth was @Prada thinking? Was Prada thinking? And what do you think of what Prada did (before the curtain fell in the window of its Soho store)? h/t to @lawyergrrl for bringing this to light. @Gothamist @WNYC https://t.co/MjqZ7LxFCw— Jim Schachter (@jimschachter) December 14, 2018
i'm always curious about how many people these sorts of things actually went through. https://t.co/RCiduOXFzV— Soraya Roberts (@SorayaRoberts) December 14, 2018
Prada has denied intentionally using racist imagery when designing the dolls, but has also said that they’ll pull the figurines from sale, production and display immediately. Employees at the brand’s Soho store were seen this morning removing the displays from the windows, and then drawing the curtains.
A Prada employee was removing "racist and denigrating blackface imagery" from the SoHo storefront this morning when @jennhsu arrived. Shortly after they lowered the blinds. https://t.co/C7wTQ9xdhC pic.twitter.com/OWjyOyLmrn— Jen Carlson (@jenist) December 14, 2018
Prada released a statement addressing the controversy:
Prada Group abhors racist imagery. 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.
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 the characters in question from display and circulation.
This is only the latest incident of a fashion house landing in hot water for racial insensitivity, after Dolce & Gabbana were accused of racism in November for a campaign promoting its Shanghai show, and H&M were criticised in January for putting an image of a young Black boy in a hoodie with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle“ on their website.
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Image: Twitter / @lawyergrrl