Fashion magnate Prada recently courted controversy after it was accused of using racist 'blackface' imagery for some trinkets it recently launched as part of its new 'Pradamalia' range. Following sever backlash, the company has issued an apology and have recalled all the questionable products from its worldwide stores.
It all started last week after a lawyer Chinyere Ezie, who works with the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights, posted a photo of some of these alleged 'blackface' trinkets including monkey-toy charms and keychains, in a storefront window in Soho.
In the post, Ezie wrote that she was 'shaking with anger' at the 'Sambo like imagery' of the Prada store.
"...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 wrote.
She added that when she entered the store to confront the storekeepers, some of the staff allegedly said, "A black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore,".
The post was shared over 11,000 times and has caused massive outrage with many agreeing that the new trinkets did, in fact, evoke racist imagery. The toys in question, Otto and Toto, are part of the new Pradamalia collection. These monkey like toys and charms are sold with elaborate origin stories and are described by Pradas as "fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre". But social media wasn't having it and immediately called the collection out.
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
All that money, employees @Prada and you expect us to believe you had no idea. Ignorance is no longer an excuse...in fact it's a lie! #Prada #Pradamalia #FOH— Unfaded Podcast (@UnfadedPodcast) December 15, 2018
Prada has pulled these deeply racist dolls now. The fact that the company “looked into its DNA” and found slavery era imagery there is apparently meant to make it seem less offensive. 2018 is ending as it began, with me wondering if it’s still 1718 https://t.co/2lFEDLRPdj— Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch) December 15, 2018
After the backlash, Prada issued an official apology:
We are committed to creating products that celebrate the diverse fashion and beauty of cultures around the world. We’ve removed all Pradamalia products that were offensive from the market and are taking immediate steps to learn from this. Full press release attached. pic.twitter.com/rKhnKjasDz— PRADA (@Prada) December 16, 2018
However, the controversy fails to die down. Many on social media claimed that taking the $550 keychains off shelves did not solve the problem of racist imagery still being used by several companies and creators across the world.
People are talking so much about the offensive @Prada Pradamalia charms, but sadly that kind of imagery is globally pervasive- this was in a bakery in Buenos Aires. ♂️ pic.twitter.com/Tkq1WTRVID— Adam Richman (@AdamRichman) December 15, 2018
Are you kidding? Ridiculous. Overly sensitive. Creating drama for the sake of attention. But no one has a problem with these popular “sock monkeys”? #Pradamalia pic.twitter.com/mZIzaZeLSA— kevin brennan (@2WNPiperPilot) December 15, 2018