Prada’s Diversity Council Wants To Avoid Blackface Backlash
By CultureBanx Team
Prada forms diversity council with Theaster Gates & Ava DuVernay
Revenues in the first six months of 2018 were up 9.4% for Prada
Italian fashion house Prada is pulling out all the stops with a new diversity council to pre-empt any blackface backlash. They’ve brought in sculptor Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, both will be tasked to “elevate voices of color.” With hip-hop’s influence on the luxury fashion sector, can Prada’s diversity council help to close the massive gap between a post-racial fashion industry and today’s reality?
Why This Matters: It has been said by many people the fashion industry has failed the black community, all while appropriating its culture. Case in point, Prada had come under fire for products and marketing seen as racially insensitive. Last December, the company displayed a monkey figurine that resembled blackface. With this new diversity council Prada has pulled together they want to address these issues and create internship and apprenticeship programs in diverse communities.
The company’s sales had been falling since 2014 before returning to growth in last year. Revenues in the first six months of 2018 were up 9.4% and net income rose €105.7 million ($123.4 million). Barring any other racially insensitive design sanfus, Prada notes digital sales are set to reach 15% of total sales by 2020.
We must remember the $3 trillion global fashion sector continues to struggle with whitewashed executives. The issues with luxury brands and blackface don’t stop or start with Prada. Kering (KER.PA +1.13 %) owned Gucci made the same mistake with a black turtleneck adorned with large red lips. Prior to this, they tried to make a mends with the hip hop community and black designers by backing the genre’s original tailor Dapper Dan’s retail store in Harlem last year.
Situational Awareness: Interestingly enough as these fashion houses look to right their diversity shortcomings, they may also be embarking upon an entirely new data set of problems. Gucci last year tested out an artificial intelligence feature for retail shoppers, it showed an algorithm to be twice as effective as human sales associates at identifying high-potential customers and getting them to buy more. We know based on several reports that A.I. has inherent built in biases against people of color that may now impact you while out trying to buy the latest fashion drip.
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