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Gucci’s ‘cultural diversity’ initiative after racist blackface scandal, cover up?

February 19, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

February 19, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Gucci put on sale a black “balaclava jumper” which looked like a blackface caricature

In the wake of the recent backlash Gucci received for putting on sale a black “balaclava jumper” with a red cut-out around the mouth which resembled a blackface caricature, the high-end Italian fashion brand on Friday announced initiatives to instil cultural diversity and awareness within the company.

The announcement came after its President and CEO, Marco Bizzarri met with popular African-American fashion designer Dapper Dan and other community leaders in Harlem to discuss the scandal and how they are going to make amends.

Dapper Dan, who also has a collaboration with Gucci shared the outcome of the meeting and what they were expecting.

In a statement, Gucci outlined four initiatives – Hiring global and regional directors for diversity and inclusion, setting up a multicultural design scholarship program, launching a diversity and inclusivity awareness program and launching a global exchange program.

“We accept full responsibility for this incident, which has exposed shortfalls in our ongoing strategic approach to embedding diversity and inclusion in both our organization and activities. I am particularly grateful to Dapper Dan for the role he has played in bringing community leaders together to offer us counsel at this time,” Bizzarri said before the initiatives were expatiated.

Read the full statement below:

In another development and also to address their own blackface controversy, Prada, on February 13, also announced the establishment of a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council which is going to be co-chaired by popular film director and producer Ava Duvernay and artist and activist Theaster Gates.

According to the Italian brand in a statement, Ava and Theaster will “help shape and advise Prada’s initiative to elevate voices of color in the fashion industry.”

The decision to establish the council came about after they were criticized for putting on sale keychain figurines which featured black-faced monkeys with big red lips resembling the racist blackface.

Read their full statement below:

This trend of producing controversial items without analyzing its cultural significance to the consumer has been described as a deliberate publicity mechanism by many critics after repetition of the same “offence”.

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