The initiative comes after the Italian fashion house faced backlash over a turtleneck sweater that seemingly resembled blackface in February. Several Black celebrities, including Spike Lee and T.I., called for a boycott of not only Gucci but also other luxury brands that consistently miss the mark of racial sensitivity.
“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 said in a statement about the diversity initiative. “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, along with prominent cultural figures including activist DeRay McKesson, entertainer Will.i.am and writer/activist Michaela Angela Davis, were named members of the Changemakers Council, a board that will select the components of the inclusion programming.
The first objective of the brand’s setup includes a $5 million fund that will be invested in community-based nonprofits geared toward helping communities of color throughout the United States.
In addition, the Gucci Changemakers launched a scholarship that will give a $20,000 grant over the course of four years to selected students. The purpose of the program is to help diversify the pool of individuals who pursue careers in the fashion industry.
The nearly 20,000 Gucci employees across the globe will be given up to four days of paid time off to volunteer with organizations that address equality, education and support of refugees.
Dapper Dan, who partnered with Gucci in 2018, reiterated the importance of the fashion house being more inclusive of marginalized people and cultures.
“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,” he said the statement about the new project. “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.”