Prada is facing a potential investigation from New York City having caused a stir with a product many have deemed racist.

The Italian luxury brand angered New Yorkers and social media users on Friday for a set of monkey-like figurines. The viral Facebook post made by New York lawyer Chinyere Ezie, said the figurines used “blackface imagery”. The trinket in question is a brown, monkey-like figure with large red lips.

A Prada representative announced on Friday that it would pull all figures from stores and displays around the world.

"Prada Group abhors racist imagery," the company said. "We will withdraw all of the characters in question from display and circulation."

However, to many, the damage had already been done. The New York City Commission on Human Rights announced late on Friday it had immediately sent the company a cease and desist letter and opened a formal investigation into the incident on behalf of the city.

"In a time when reports of anti-Black discrimination and racism are increasing, it is appalling to see this kind of blatantly racists displays and merchandise from Prada," assistant commissioner Sapna V. Raj said in an emailed statement. "Black New Yorkers face discrimination and bias every day. To see racist Jim Crow-era imagery so patently on display at an international luxury retailer's storefront is appalling and not tolerated in our city."

The commissioner is authorised to fine up to £200,000 for violators of the human rights law which requires the "finding of wilful and malicious violations".