Gucci collaborator and designer Dapper Dan (whose real name is Daniel Day) is vowing to make Gucci accountable after the infamous “Blackface Sweater” controversy. Dan along with many others took to social media to call out the Italian luxury brand calling the situation “outrageously wrong” and an “insult.” He also vowed to use his influence to meet with the designer to ensure these situations never occur again, a move that rappers like 50 Cent have criticized as other rappers like T.I. attempt to organize a boycott against the brand.
But Dapper Dan isn’t exactly down with the “cancel culture” and believes there is way to use this situation to help benefit the black community particularly in many ways. In a lengthy Instagram message he states we need to create and improve opportunities for black creativity in fashion, which is difficult when we decide to cancel companies over every instance of ignorance:
“We have to learn to earn.”
“What happened to all the Black fashion brands that failed since the ’80s? Was it because they didn’t get Black support, or was it because they didn’t know the business? Do you expect our young Black designers to spend 30+ years mastering fashion by teaching themselves as I did? How do you expect them to compete with big brands if they don’t really know the business? They need jobs and internships within these big brands so that they can learn and they branch out on their own.”
The 74-year-old states that he won’t argue with those who feel a boycott is what’s necessary for change in these circumstances, but believes those actions only destroy opportunities for growth:
“Many young people think a t-shirt design with a logo is a fashion business when in reality the business of fashion is so much broader and more complex than that.”
“I studied my a** off to master this business. Live your dream. Don’t let other people’s feelings stop you. Take advantage of the chance to learn. All you haters get out the way for young people. Embrace change. For those that want to continue to hate Gucci and boycott, you are entitled to do as you please. But if anyone should be boycotted it’s the brands that won’t give our young people an opportunity to learn.”
Dan became a well-known figure in fashion in the 80’s after creating custom designs with the logos from high-end brands including Louis Vuitton and Gucci. He is credited for building the bridge between hip-hop and luxury designers. In 2017, Dan partnered with the brand for a new menswear line and Harlem saw The Dapper Dan Atelier Studio as the first luxury house fashion store in 2018.
On Thursday, Gucci’s President and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri met with the designer in New York City for a meeting in Harlem to discuss solutions with community and industry thought leaders. 24 hours later, the brand has announced the first of several rounds of initiatives it will implement to rectify its recent transgression and make good on its promise of creating institutionalized change within the company which also includes cultural sensitivity training for all corporate employees. The initiatives are listed in detail below:
GLOBAL AND REGIONAL DIRECTORS FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Gucci is working to not only hire talented and diverse candidates but also create positions within the company whose sole responsibility will be to ensure the company reaches these standards. Gucci is now initiating a search for the newly created role of Global Director for Diversity and Inclusion, based at Gucci America in New York. As member of the Company’s
Executive Management Committee reporting to the Chief People Officer, the Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion will be responsible for developing and executing Gucci’s diversity andinclusion strategy to ensure the vision is effectively deployed globally. This role will also focus on recruitment practices, ongoing development of Gucci Education Programs, and aligning the Gucci Changemakers worldwide volunteering initiative supporting local communities in which the brand operates. Directors for Diversity and Inclusion will also be appointed in each region of the world reporting to the Global Director.
MULTI-CULTURAL DESIGN SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Gucci is launching a Multi-Cultural Design Scholarship Program cultivating new talent. In partnership with fashion schools around the world, this 12-month fast track program will aim to amplify opportunities for underrepresented groups of talents leading to full time employment to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace on an ongoing basis. The schools of focus will be in the following cities: New York (Harlem), Nairobi, New Dehli, Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, London and Dubai.
Meanwhile, Gucci will immediately hire five new designers from around the world to fill positions within the Rome design office in order to increase the diversity of perspective with immediate effect. Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele will be personally involved in the selection process.
All of the talent recruited will be paired with an individual mentor to ensure a seamless integration within the department.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVITY AWARENESS PROGRAM
Gucci is creating a new global learning program with the objective to increase awareness of unconscious cultural bias and create a more inclusive workplace. This program will be launched by the beginning of May for all 18,000 global employees and complete by the end of June, with an initial focus on Italy and the United States and will be taught in one full day session with required follow-up by all participants on an annual basis.The company will also be introducing a specific diversity and inclusivity module within its new employee induction program developed in conjunction with regional experts.
GLOBAL EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Gucci will launch an internal Global Exchange Program to promote a multicultural and diverse workplace by providing internal mobility for talents to come from the regions to work at the headquarter offices in Italy. Selected participants in the program will have the opportunity to grow their skills and experience, always paired with a mentor to ensure seamless integration.