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Prada Faces Backlash Over Blackface Keychains And Displays

Whenever a company sets out to push the boundaries of its field, it's going to cause friction. It comes with the territory. But there's a definite line between pushing the boundaries, and pushing all good sense in front of a moving train while making a run for it.

In the big time fashion game, all the luxury brands are going to try things that look odd from the outside to try to distinguish themselves. But seldom do they go as far as Prada did with its Pradamalia collection — and they really, really shouldn't.

The Italian fashion house best known for its handbags and shoes walked straight into controversy that it definitely should have seen coming with a simple, $550 keychain.

Twitter | @lawyergrrl

The company calls the figures on its keychains "Mysterious tiny creatures that are one part biological, on part technological, all parts Prada," but just about everybody else is calling them racist.

Twitter user Chinyere Ezie, a civil rights attorney and activist, posted on Twitter about the Pradamalia collection after spotting one of the in-store displays.

And no surprise, that's exactly when the massive backlash started.

Just in case anybody missed the connection, some other folks on Twitter posted the Pradamalia displays next to some classic examples of overtly racist "Little Sambo" artwork.

The comparison is not a good look for Prada.

Fashion blog Diet Prada also took notice and mentioned that the monkey has been a mascot for Prada for a long time.

Instagram | @diet_prada

"The exaggerated stereotypes propagated racism freely back then, but it's apparent that the legacy of the harmful imagery still affects how we contextualize racism today," they wrote.

As some folks pointed out, it's downright jaw-dropping when you think about how many people must have seen this keychain before it went to market and thought it was fine.

Twitter | @Siainhere

And they're not wrong. Some also suggested that more diversity at Prada's headquarters might help prevent such missteps in the future.

New York City's Commission on Human Rights sent some people out to Prada's SoHo location to hand out some literature and make sure people were aware of their rights.

It's both heartening and sad that they were so quick to respond to the store's displays.

It didn't take long for Prada to issue an apology either, stating that they "abhor racist imagery" and claiming that the blackface was unintentional.

Twitter | @Prada

And they promised to take the Pradamalia products off their shelves and remove the displays.

And while it's certainly a good idea for Prada to try some damage control here, not everybody was buying their spin.

And it looks like many won't be buying their handbags or shoes in the future, either.