Last December, Prada came under fire for selling a series of controversial “Pradamalia” keychains that resembled blackface. Following criticism, the Italian brand withdrew the product and issued a lengthy apology. “They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface,” the brand wrote in response to the backlash. “Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery.”
Now, this week, the Italian label announced the creation an official Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council that aims to “elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at large.” The new initiative will be co-chaired by writer, director, and producer Ava DuVernay as well as American artist and activist Theaster Gates.
“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting, and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company,” said Miuccia Prada in a statement. “In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live.” In addition to the initiative, Prada will also offer full scholarships and training programs across the nation and within international Prada offices.
“Prada has been my ally in some of the most ambitious artistic projects I’ve done today including the launch of the Black Image Corporation,” said Gates in the statement. “Growing diversity efforts in the company is important to Ava, Miuccia, and I and I am eager to lead the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and achieve meaningful impact throughout the fashion industry,” he added.
Gucci announced similar initiatives recently after a similar misstep this month, including launching a full scholarship program to increase diversity within their creative departments. The brand also came under fire for selling a sweater that resembled blackface. Gucci has since apologized and immediately removed the sweater from its online and physical stores amid public outcry. The Italian brand’s CEO, Marco Bizzarri, also met with designer and Gucci collaborator Dapper Dan in Harlem, along with “members of the community” and “industry leaders” according to Dapper Dan’s Instagram post.