Moncler clothing is under fire after releasing a new line that draws a striking resemblance to some racist imagery of the past. The company designed a set of clothes in collaboration with fine art collaborative Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III of FriendsWithYou.
Released worldwide on July 1, they feature Friends’ characters like the smiley face Happy Virus and self-descriptive Cloudy.
But the character in question is Mafi the penguin.
Mafi resembles blackface frequently displayed in American media beginning in the early 19th century. The racist imagery was seen in minstrels, cartoons and toy dolls. According to educator Marcus Echols, blackface started as a “derogatory act to show Black people in a buffoonery, coonery and ignorant light.”
Apparel depicting the penguin includes t-shirts, a reversible jacket and a tote bag. Moncler introduced the collection in a video June 28 ahead of the launch.
— Moncler (@Moncler) June 28, 2016
Many have shunned the designs.
Eri juxtaposed the clothing with a cartoon and doll in blackface.
I'm not saying Moncler's new line is racist but…. pic.twitter.com/pJrF4WbCpX
— eri (@ericabaguma) July 14, 2016
Raddy encouraged the Black community not to purchase Moncler.
Black people, by all means, do not spend your money with Moncler. pic.twitter.com/uyAnCY5TYP
— Raddy (@Itsraddyhoe) July 14, 2016
Muminah Alfonso wasn’t buying the penguin design and said it was “clearly inspired by the racist golliwog toys.” According to the Jim Crow Museum, Golliwog began as a character in the 1895 book “The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls,” by Florence Kate Upton. He was drawn to look ugly, with thick lips, wide eyes and usually had paws instead of hands and feet.
— Muminah Alfonso (@muminuh) July 15, 2016
Moncler issued an apology for the Mafi the Penguin line this morning, saying they are “deeply troubled if the face, seen out of its context, could be associated with past or present unacceptable, racially offensive caricatures.”
Moncler & FriendsWithYou pic.twitter.com/MJtJ54HOK6
— Moncler (@Moncler) July 15, 2016
@MeGs_66 was not pleased with the apology saying she was “so disgusted” with the French-Italian brand.
— megS (@MeGs_66) July 15, 2016
@bennylovhe also did not think the apology was enough to change what had been done.
Saying you are not racist does not erase the sentiments your ignorance @Moncler
— Benny-Lovhe (@bennylovhe) July 15, 2016
The apparel is no longer available online. It is unclear if they have been pulled from shelves in-store.