With Katy Perry’s shoe brand becoming the latest fashion company to make a racially insensitive design misstep, it’s been announced that Prada is taking the initiative to combat such issues.
After reeling from its own design debacle last year—having to remove blackface iterations of ‘monkeyesque’ handbag accessories—the Italian luxury design label helmed by Miuccia Prada has announced that it’s enlisting ESSENCE cover girl and award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay and renowned artist and activist Theaster Gates to lead its charge toward global inclusivity and diversity, aimed particularly at the Black community.
In a statement via its Twitter page, the brand says:
“Prada announces artist and activist, Theaster Gates, and film director and producer Ava DuVernay, will co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.”
#Prada announces artist and activist, @TheasterGates, and film director and producer @Ava Duvernay, will co-hair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large. pic.twitter.com/vfqzLbA3Hv
— PRADA (@Prada) February 14, 2019
“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 longtime collaborators Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates on this important initiative,” said Miuccia Prada.
To be fair, the brand has frequently cast Black models in its runway shows and advertising campaigns, most recently hiring breakout model-of-the-moment Anok Yai for its spring/summer 2019 campaign; previous Prada models have included Gabrielle Union, Alfre Woodard, Lupita N’yongo and Naomi Campbell. Yet, it’s mind-boggling why the brand’s controversial 2018 ‘Animalia’ collection was cleared for approval.
With regard to the new diversity initiatives, here’s a short list of what the brand is promising to do:
•Sponsor scholarships and training programs in the U.S. and in every Prada office worldwide.
•Partner with universities and organizations to spearhead internship and apprenticeship initiatives in diverse communities.
•Include the voices of prominent academic and cultural experts from high-level social institutions.
Gates, a mentee of Miuccia Prada, has established a relationship with the brand that stretches back to 2017. In one of his previous Instagram posts, he stated the following:
“Dearest mentor, Miuccia Prada… Thanks always to the Fondazione Prada for their support of living artists.”
Both DuVernay and Gates have yet to publicly comment on the recent announcement.