Culturally Astute Chanel Hires A Head of Diversity & Inclusion

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By Christian McKenzie

  • Chanel has hired a Head of Diversity & Inclusion amid industry backlash
  • Chanel generated $9.6 billion in 2018

Luxury fashion labels have been worn and lauded in songs by urban entertainers for decades and now European fashion house Chanel has hired a new Head of Diversity & Inclusion. When you consider 2019 has presented many troublesome examples of fashion brands showing us that they either lack diverse teams, or they do not empower employees of color to have decision making power. These brands stand to lose a loyal customer base by not addressing the lack of cultural awareness internally, something Chanel is trying to stay in front of.  

Why This Matters: Unlike some other luxury European brands, Chanel’s image has not been mired by accusations of racially insensitive designs this year. The French fashion house receives ongoing support by celebrities of color, including Willow Smith and Pharrell, as well as their fans. Since the total spending power for African-American’s is projected to reach $1.4 trillion by next year, brands like Chanel can avoid losing a loyal customer base by addressing the lack of cultural awareness internally. As a result, Chanel’s new Head of Diversity & Inclusion has an influential position to ensure its customer base is reflected in their company culture.

Unlike some other luxury European brands, Chanel’s image has not been mired by accusations of racially insensitive designs this year

Chanel’s approach to hiring a diversity and inclusion officer before a crisis could occur may show customers that they are aware of the current missteps of their competitors and are taking measures to not follow these embarrassing trends. More than 50% of chief diversity officers do not get the internal support needed to create change in large organizations. Hopefully this will change so that real results can happen.

Situational Awareness: There’s a recent uptick in tone death fashion designs by European labels, with brands supported by some of the biggest names in hip hop, have done about face when racism creeps into their fashion. Spike Lee boycotted Prada and Gucci for their use of blackface imagery and T.I. also asked for a boycott of Gucci. Subsequently, these labels hired consultants to address internal racial insensitivity. Gucci tapped Dapper Dan and Bethann Hardison; Prada enlisted Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates.

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Christian McKenzie

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