Prada to prioritize diversity, both in-house and across the fashion industry

Prada is tackling the issue of diversity with an in-house ‘Diversity and Inclusion Council.'


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The luxury Italian fashion house will take advice from the council, which aims to "elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large" and develop opportunities for diverse fashion talent. The council, which will be co-chaired by the artist and activist Theaster Gates and the writer, director and producer Ava DuVernay, will work with the brand to sponsor scholarships and training programs across the US, and in its own offices globally.

"Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company," said Miuccia Prada, Chief Executive Officer and Lead Creative Director at 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, 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 council will work alongside the Prada Group's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department, which focuses on community investment, sustainability, scientific research and culture. Upcoming projects include hosting a conference on the topic of improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as examining processes and offering advice on tactical and strategic approaches to inclusion.

The move comes at a pivotal time for the fashion industry, which has seen multiple luxury brands fall foul of consumer standards regarding inclusivity. Recent controversies include a black polo neck sweater that was pulled from Gucci stores this month, following widespread backlash and allegations that it represented "blackface" imagery, prompting the house to issue a public apology. Dolce & Gabbana was boycotted in China last year amidst a volatile racism row, and Prada itself scrapped a line of monkey-like keychain figurines in December after the pieces were compared to blackface caricatures.

However, several fashion industry players are also responding to the need for more awareness surrounding the issue of diversity -- in January, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) teamed up with the fashion giant PVH Corp. to publish an extensive report dubbed ‘Insider/Outsider' that spans all areas of inclusion and diversity, while Swedish fast fashion giant H&M appointed its first ‘Head of Inclusion & Diversity for North America' in November.
 

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