Gucci screwed up BIG TIME (during Black History Month at that), and the backlash has been swift and deserved. Now, the Italian fashion house is attempting to right their “outrageously wrong” decision to design and sell a sweater that resembled the highly offensive and racially insensitive blackface.
Gucci has found itself embroiled in a huge controversy of its own making. Celebrities have called for boycotts. Fashion influencers have vowed not to wear their coveted Gucci items. Dapper Dan, Gucci’s preeminent creative collaborator, said the brand got it “outrageously wrong” in a public statement he posted to Twitter and Instagram.
Here is his full statement: “I am a black man before I am a brand. Another fashion house has gotten it outrageously wrong. There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult. The ceo of Gucci has agreed to come from Italy to Harlem this week to meet with me, along with members of the community and other industry leaders. There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable.”
Like so many Black people, I was highly offended and insulted by the Gucci blackface turtleneck. The sweater featured cartoonish and thick red lips around the mouth cut-out. Moreover, how this sweater made it from concept to design to in stores is a classic example of why diversity in leadership and decision-making positions matter.
Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri, whose leaked internal memo is below, accepted Dap’s invitation to his Harlem boutique. It was imperative that he explain how an item so offensive was greenlit. Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele also offered his apologies and an explanation behind the design as well.
As a result, Bizzarri announced their strategy for improving diversity within the company, and hopefully putting the Gucci blackface fiasco begin them.
Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele Speaks
How Gucci Plans To Improve Its Diversity & Inclusion
- Hire Global Director and Regional Directors for Diversity & Inclusion. The Global Director will be located in New York and responsible for developing and executing Gucci’s diversity and inclusion strategy
- Launch A Multi-Cultural Design Scholarship Program. In partnership with fashion schools around the world, the 12-month program will aim to amplify opportunities for underrepresented groups. The goal full time employment for recipients to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Schools in Harlem and Nairobi are on the list.
- Implementation of Diversity & Inclusion Program. A new global learning program with the objective to increase awareness of unconscious cultural bias.
- Implementation of Global Exchange Program. This initiative will promote a multicultural and diverse workplace by providing internal mobility and opportunities to work at Gucci HQ in Italy.
So the verdict is still out of how Gucci will bounce back from this nearly unforgivable offense. You all know that I am a HUGE Gucci fan, and have been since my youth. But until I feel like the brand has truly learned from this debacle, I won’t be buying anything Gucci. I will, however, continue to wear the items I own sparingly.
How do you feel about Gucci’s planned initiatives to improve overall diversity and inclusion? Share your thoughts in the comments!