Prada is being accused of selling blackface merchandise within their new accessory line called Pradamalia, a “whimsical collection of characters” recently added to their catalog.
However, New York attorney Chinyere Ezie doesn’t think they’re cute at all, in fact, she finds one character, Otto, offensive.
Prada has built a storyline around Pradamalia, the characters are said to be “mutations of the same genetic material. Prada Labs scientists report a strong familial bond between the two.”
Ezie posted on her Facebook page that she came across a Prada storefront promoting the characters, namely Otto, in the window, and she became angry. Also, the timing could not have been worse.
“Today after returning to NYC after a very emotional visit to the Smithsonian NationalMuseum of African American History and Culture including an exhibit on blackface,” Ezie wrote on her page. “I walked past Prada’s Soho storefront only to be confronted with the very same racist and denigrating #blackface imagery.”
“I entered the store with a coworker, only to be assaulted with more and more bewildering examples of their Sambo like imagery.”
The company seems to be trying to cash in on the recent trend of Kawaii, or creating merchandise to look cute or adorable. The Kawaii culture is very profitable in Japan. A single Pradamalia pendant is going to set you back upwards of $500.
Otto is described by Prada in part as “inspired by the image of the monkey, one of Prada’s most iconic logos.”
Wanting answers, Ezie entered the store to inquire further about the questionable miniatures.
“When I asked a Prada employee whether they knew they had plastered blackface imagery throughout their store,” wrote Ezie, “in a moment of surprising candor I was told that ‘a black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore.'”
After posting her story, Ezie has already received a lot of support. One saying they have contacted Prada and another listing the corporate phone number.
One addressed Prada directly, “Explain yourself [Prada] better yet we will be calling bright and early and you can explain it over the phone,”
Ezie says history cannot repeat itself, “Black America deserves better. And we demand better.”
She implores people to share her story using the hashtags
Update: Prada says they are removing the item from their Pradamalia line.