Just four weeks after announcing a long-term set of initiatives to push for more diversity and inclusion, Gucci is implementing a new scholarship and fund that will double down on that commitment.
The Gucci Changemakers is a multi-year $5 million fund, as well as a $1.5 million scholarship program. Initially Changermakers was a global employee-volunteering initiative that worked in conjunction with Gucci’s commitment to social impact in our communities and within the fashion industry — and now it has expanded to include the fund and scholarship.
Gucci found itself in the hot seat late January after a sweater that allegedly resembled Blackface was being offered for purchase on the brand’s website. Social media erupted and Gucci immediately apologized for the misstep. Furthermore, executives from the the Italian fashion house quickly assembled in New York City to meet with Gucci collaborator and legendary fashion designer Dapper Dan and a host of other fashion insiders to brainstorm ways for the company to become more inclusive and lead the charge when it comes to diversity throughout the industry.
“I believe in dialogue, building bridges and taking quick action,” said Marco Bizzarri, Gucci President and CEO in a press release. “This is why we started working immediately on the long-term infrastructure at Gucci to address our shortcomings. And now through our Changemakers program, we will invest important resources to unify and strengthen our communities across North America, with a focus on programs that will impact youth and the African-American community.” Bizzarri continued, “I believe in the promise of the next generation, and through our scholarship fund we will also create more opportunities for talented young people of diverse backgrounds to gain access to careers in the fashion industry.”
Dapper Dan took to Instagram Sunday afternoon to tease the launch of the program saying, “Black designers and fashion professionals will be given new opportunities through these new initiatives. It’s imperative that we have opportunities to learn on a world-class level, and also have a seat at the table to say how we should be represented.” He goes onto say, “We’re serving notice to all brands that this is a movement.”
While comments below Dapper Dan’s post has been mixed — from naysayers who don’t believe that Gucci deserves the Black community’s support, to those who are highly impressed by the brand’s swift action plan — it’s clear that a very important conversation has started. And more importantly initiatives and people have been put in place to rectify wrongs.
“As a partner, I am proud to work with Gucci and other community leaders to help guide programs that will create meaningful impact for the Black community and fashion as a whole,” said Dapper Dan in the press release. “It is imperative that we have a seat at the table to say how we should be represented and reimagined. Through our work together, Gucci is in a position to lead the overall industry toward becoming a better more inclusive one.”
See below for more information on how Gucci Changemakers works and how to apply:
Gucci Changemakers will have a focus on empowering young people through education by giving a voice to the next generation. Building on the company’s recently announced Global Multi-Cultural Design Scholarship Program, Gucci will empower more diverse talent in North America to access the industry through scholarships that will be available to college students across various disciplines with the ambition to work in fashion. The Changemakers Council will also help select eligible students from schools across North America to participate in the Gucci Changemakers Scholarship Fund. Over the course of four years, each student shall receive a $ 20,000 grant toward completing their college education. More information will be announced this Spring detailing the eligibility and application process. Inquiries can be submitted at the following email address: [email protected]
Here is a look at the luminaires Gucci has put in place to make sure the Changemakers program is a success.
The Gucci North America Changemakers Council presently includes (in alphabetical order):
– Bethann Hardison, Fashion Activist
– Brittany Packnett, Activist, Educator and Writer
– Cleo Wade, Poet and Activist
– Dapper Dan, Harlem Couturier
– DeRay McKesson, Activist
– Eric Avila, Professor of History and Chicano Studies, UCLA
– Ivy McGregor, CEO, The IVY Inc.
– Kimberly Blackwell, Business Leader, CEO, PMM
– Michaela Angela Davis, Activist and Writer
– Robert Carter, Chair of Gucci Internal D&I Committee, Gucci Project Manager Dapper Dan Atelier – Susan Chokachi, Gucci, President and CEO, North America
– Yaseen Eldik, Lawyer and Writer
– Yasmeen Hassan, Executive Director of Equality Now
– Yvette Noel-Schure, Co-Founder & Exec. VP Schure Media Group
– Will.i.am, Entertainer, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
– To be appointed, Gucci Global Director for Diversity and Inclusion