By Colleen Barry

The Associated Press

Gilberto Benetton, one of the four founding siblings of the iconic Benetton fashion brand known as much for its provocative ad campaigns as its colorful knitwear, died Monday evening at age 77, his family announced.

The family said Benetton’s wife, Lalla, two daughters, Barbara and Sabrina, and son—in—law Ermanno were by his side at his home in the northern city of Treviso, near where the fashion company is based.

The news agency ANSA said he had suffered an undisclosed illness.

Gilberto, along with siblings Carlo, Luciano and Giuliana, founded Benetton as knitwear company in 1965, transforming it into a global brand that sustained steady growth in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, only to suffer the competition from fast—fashion in the 2000s.

The company has gone through multiple relaunches and management changes over the last decade or so.

Benetton’s ad campaigns challenged racial, religious and gender stereotypes, often controversially.

Some of the most provocative included an image of Pope Benedict XVI kissing an imam, which angered the Vatican.

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