UPDATE: We reached out to Coclico for comment, and they responded to us with this statement:
Kentucky does refer to the type of leather used, as you mentioned in your article. Our leathers are named by our supplier. We have other leathers called Dixan, Serpico, Ante, Lecchio, Vegas, Nappa, etc. And yes, we use “black” on our tags because we translate all our colors to English. But our shoes are made in Mallorca, Spain so much of the paperwork that comes directly from our factory (packing slips and whatnot) would list colors in Spanish. I’m guessing that is how Shopbop and Amazon came up with their naming. The naming process is in no way meant to be offensive, it is merely descriptive. Thanks for alerting us of your article, I understand that this is a sensitive subject.
Naming products is a tricky business, but it’s fairly easy to come up with something that doesn’t seem horribly racist. Or so we thought.
This afternoon we were tipped off to Melissa Pierce‘s Twitter feed, which made note of some offensive footwear. Pierce was shopping on Amazon when she came across a boot made by Coclico. The style? Miller. The color? Kentucky Negro. Um, WHAT?! From a brief perusal of Amazon’s Coclico offerings, we surmised Kentucky is a type of leather treatment they use (shoes also come in colorways like Kentucky Hazelnut), and Negro is the unnecessarily offensive way they say black (there is also a shoe that comes in Dixan Negro).
So we decided to dig a little deeper. Coclico’s own e-commerce site doesn’t use the word negro, and instead calls the shade Kentucky Black. The same is true of online retailer Ped Shoes. However, this is not the case over at Shopbop. They list a Coclico boot color “Negro (black)”. Yikes.
We’re not sure who’s at fault here. It’s true that “negro” means black in Spanish. That said, companies should probably amend product names for the countries they’re sold in if said names could be considered offensive. (And for the record, Coclico is an American company, though the shoes are made in Spain.) So, did Coclico send out line sheets with the offending term? We can’t imagine Amazon or Shopbop would both use the word out of the blue. But then why does Coclico not use the word on its own site? We hope it’s because people complained, just like we are doing now.