We all know in this day and age that even the slightest thing can cause an uproar of complaints and flashbacks for alleged racism, sexism and so on. But with these….rather quirky (to put it politely) shoes, the problem really should have been obvious from the start.
Pop singer Katy Perry recently released a shoe line from her fashion brand, Katy Perry Collections, with this particular footwear being heavily criticised for provoking racist imagery in the form of blackface.
Perry removed the shoes from the brand’s website immediately after the online outrage began. The shoes in question come in two styles – the Rue Face slip-on loafer and the Ora Face block heel sandal and features a face with prominent big red lips, which is likened to “blackface”, which was often seen in many theatrical performances in the early 20th century.
As well as the shoes being sold on the brand’s website, the shoes were also on sale in US retailers such as Walmart, but have since been removed from shelves following the backlash.
A spokeswoman for Katy Perry told Sky News that they are “saddened” by the negative response to the shoes, which they claim were intended to be a nod to modern art and surrealism.
“The Rue and The Ora were part of a collection that was released last summer in nine different colourways (black, blue, gold, graphite, lead, nude, pink, red, silver) and envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism,” the spokeswoman stated.
“I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface. Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them from the Katy Perry Collection.”
Although Perry’s shoe line is available in the UK through House of Fraser, the department store confirmed it never stocked the Rue and Ora styles of the shoes.
Katy Perry’s brand hasn’t been the first in the news to face backlash for their designs reminiscent of blackface. Last week, fashion brand Gucci were forced to apologise after releasing a rather tasteless woman’s jumper that resembled blackface.
The brand faced serious criticism after images emerged of the “balaclava jumper”, which has a cut-out at the mouth that is outlined in red.
In December, Prada removed a string of accessories, one of which included black monkeys with red lips. The small series of fashion items, called Pradamalia, featured keychains and toys in a number of colours. However, the black and brown versions had oversized red lips.
Also, let’s not forget when H&M came under fire last year after an image of a black child modelling a hoodie with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” as part of their advertising on their website, which caused immediate uproar. Although, the boy’s mother didn’t feel that it was anything racist or anything to make a big debacle over.
Despite claims of the shoes’ designs intended to appreciate modern art, the design of the black shoes should have really raised alarm bells right from the start, even if racism was not intended. We wonder how many of these shoes actually got sold before quickly being taken off shelves again, because we can’t imagine many would be caught dead in them.
Katy Perry said in a statement about the shoe design, “I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface.”
“Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them” she said.
However, now due to the rarity of these items after being pulled from shop shelves, all be it, a little late, they may now be seen being sold on eBay to the highest bidder, since that’s nothing more than we would expect in this trend of online-shopping culture, right?
Anyway, do you think Katy Perry’s shoes and Gucci’s recent jumper is a clear depiction of blackface, or do you think people are just being oversensitive? Let us know in the comments section down below.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: Newshub