Dutch retailer drops blackface from Zwarte Piet costumes after racist responses on opinion poll

Zwarte Piet costume
Zwarte Piet costume. (Photo: Feestkleding 365)

Dutch party clothing retailer Feestkleding 365 decided to drop all signs of blackface from its Zwarte Piet costumes, the company announced in a press release on Tuesday. The decision was made based on racist comments the retailer received on an opinion poll about whether or not to keep the costume in its current form. Feestkleding 365 also decided to donate the revenue made by selling these costumes to charity. 

Last month Feestkleding 365 asked 5 thousand of its customers whether or not they should keep selling Zwarte Piet costumes. 18,6 percent indicated they found Zwarte Piet's current look disturbing, the rest voted for keeping him as is. 

"The surprisingly high percentage of votes against Zwarte Piet, along with the many racist remarks coming from the pro-Zwarte Piet voters, was reason enough for Feestkleding 365 to make some radical adjustments to its Zwarte Piet collection", the company said. On its website, Feestkleding replaced the Zwarte Piet faces with a smiley face to remove all signs of the blackface makeup. Feestkleding also decided to donate all revenue made off Zwarte Piet costumes sold thus far to charity KiKa, which helps children who suffer from cancer.

"Almost one in five voters wanted to see Zwarte Piet out of our store", Jose Cabrera of Feestkleding 365 said. "We find that number quite high. Also, we want to distance ourselves from the comments that were posted underneath our poll. A lot of them were ill-intended or even plainly racist. That is why, starting today, Zwarte Piet has lost his color and has a smiley emoji on our website. For us, the smiley emoji can mean only one thing: joy!"