Prada Settles With NYC Over Blackface Backlash

CBx Vibe:High Fashion” Roddy Rich

By CultureBanx Team

  • Prada and the NYC Human Rights Commission reached an agreement over its 2018 blackface scandal
  • Shares of Prada have declined more than 11% year to date

Italian fashion house Prada (1913.HK -1.21%) and the New York City Human Rights Commission have reached an agreement over the 2018 display of a monkey figurine that resembled blackface associated with racist imagery. The luxury fashion brand will have to undergo racial equity training for its employees in New York City and executives in Milan, as well as hiring a diversity officer. Can urban influence on the luxury fashion sector help to close the massive gap between a post-racial fashion industry and today’s reality that’s upsetting the market.

Why This Matters: This deal is the first of its kind for the NYC commission, to hold a brand responsible for its imagery. Other brands should be worried because it’s estimated a company could lose up to $4 billion in market value due to bad media attention related to racism and sexism. That’s not the type of money Prada which has experienced declining sales since 2014 before returning to growth in 2018. The Hong Kong-listed company increased its revenues 2% to €1.57 billion ($1.71 billion) in the first half of 2019. Barring any other racially insensitive design sanfus, Prada notes digital sales are set to reach 15% of total sales by 2020. Prada shares have declined more than 11% year to date.

It’s estimated a company could lose up to $4 billion in market value due to bad media attention related to racism and sexism

It was Chinyere Ezie, a civil rights lawyer who first posted pictures of the blackface figurines from what Prada called its “Pradamalia” line. After a massive social media upheaval, they pulled the items from its shelves and created a “diversity council” that includes sculptor Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay. There were no black employees working at Prada headquarters at all during the time of the Pradamalia incident, according to The New York Times.

Reconciliation with culture across the fashion industry has seen a huge uptick in the past year as the $3 trillion global fashion sector continues to struggle with whitewashed runways and executives. The commission’s microscope is hypersensitive to the fashion industry’s racial shortcomings. It has also been negotiating with Kering (KER.PA -1.10%) owned Gucci in regards to their post-blackface incident. The company made a black turtleneck adorned with large red lips.

What’s Next: There was no declaration by Prada of any wrongdoing in the settlement language and they have 120 days after signing the agreement to appoint a permanent diversity officer. Lastly, the NYC Human Rights Commission will be keeping its eyes on Prada as it will have to adhere to mandatory reporting to the group over the next two years.

CBx Vibe:High Fashion” Roddy Rich


CultureBanx Team

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