Prada Taps Ava Duvernay To Help Lead Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
Unfortunately, H&M, Gucci and Prada aren’t the first names in designer fashion to be accused of racism. I still vividly remember the racist rumors that followed the Tommy Hilfiger brand when the designer allegedly claimed he didn’t intend for his clothes to be favored and worn by minorities, otherwise he wouldn’t have made them so nice. Hilfiger adamantly denied the accusations and made an appearance on Oprah in 2007 to put the rumors to rest. The label continued to thrive, but it’s presence in the hip-hop community that had glorified the brand for some time seemed to almost disappear. Similar things would later happen with popular labels like Von Dutch and the transgressions were all evidence of the fact that high-fashion and black dollars have historically had fluctuating relationship. As rappers continue to name drop the luxury designers in songs and rock their names on various parts of their bodies, the brands still fail to allow those voices to have an impact on everything from their marketing campaigns to the actual designs.
Prada is hoping to break that cycle by seeking assistance from prominent figures in the black community. The high end fashion line recently faced outrage when keychains from the label’s Pradmalia collection appeared to feature blackface. The luxury Italian fashion house has tapped filmmaker Ava Duvernay to co-chair its Diversity And Inclusion Advisory council along with artist and activist Theaster Gates. TIME reports that Duvernay and Gates will work alongside several other cultural and academic experts to advise the brand with education, training programs and talent development with an effort to “close the inclusion gap in the fashion industry.” In a statement, Miuccia Prada, CEO and Lead Creative Director of Prada, shared that the fashion label is aiming to represent the market it serves:
“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company.”
“In addition to amplifying voices of colour within the industry we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with long-time collaborators, Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates, on this important initiative. We look forward to working with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to help us grow not only as a company but also as individuals.”
Gates and Duvernay have both partnered with the label in the past. Gates noted that he hopes the work he’s already committed to will help add to the influence he hopes the council will have on the Prada brand:
“My work amplifies the voices that have been absent from broad cultural conversations, and I am happy to partner with Prada to advise on processes that will make the company and industry more reflective of the world today.”
These efforts will also include Prada sponsoring scholarships and training programs in the United States and in all Prada offices internationally. Both Gates and Duvernay will also assist the brand in providing designers of color to obtain internships and apprenticeships that are inclusive of diverse communities.
Hopefully this move isn’t simply a short-lived effort for public relations alone, but a first step into truly listening to its market and making sure its brand truly takes into consideration the identities of all of its consumers.