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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Prada to launch diversity council after outrage over 'racist' designs

Director Ava DuVernay and activist Theaster Gates will co-chair the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council

Director Ava DuVernay will co-chair Prada's new Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. AP
Director Ava DuVernay will co-chair Prada's new Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. AP

Prada has launched a diversity council with the aim of “elevating voices of colour within the company and the fashion industry".

The luxury label's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council will be co-chaired by director, producer and writer Ava DuVernay, alongside artist and activist Theaster Gates. It comes just months after the Italian fashion house was accused of creating racist figurines, which it eventually pulled from shelves after online backlash.

A Prada keyring drew accusations of racism. Courtesy: Prada
Prada removed the bag charms after they drew 'blackface' comparisons

"Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company," head designer Miuccia Prada said in a statement. "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."

The initiative will also work towards greater inclusion within the industry, partnering with universities and offering sponsored internships.

A Gucci model during the Milan Fashion Week, wearing an $890 sweater that sparked a "blackface" outcry. Antonio Calanni / AP
Gucci is announcing a major push to step up its diversity hiring following an uproar over an $890 sweater that resembled blackface. AP

Prada follows in the footsteps of Gucci, which last week announced it would be setting an inclusion scheme after being embroiled in its own ‘blackface’ backlash over the design of a balaclava jumper. The jumper has since been removed from sale. Gucci’s Alessandro Michele said it was important for the brand to “take full accountability” for the effect of the jumper, adding racism was never his intention.

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Updated: February 17, 2019 01:03 PM

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