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Gucci to step up diversity hiring after 'blackface' controversy

Tatyana Jenene

 // Feb 16, 2019

Gucci.com online sales screenshot

Fashion house Gucci has announced a new significant initiative to build cultural awareness following an uproar over a controversial balaclava top that resembled blackface.

Gucci plans to increase diversity hires by creating a new global director for diversity and inclusion role, along with five new designers from around the world for their Rome office, according to a new statment released on Friday (Feb. 15).

The brand has decided to launch various multi-cultural scholarship programs in 10 cities worldwide with the goal of building a "more diverse and inclusive workplace on an ongoing basis."

The scholarship program will be launched in New York, Kenya's capital of Nairobi, New Delhi, Beijing, the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The program has been described as a 12-month fast-track program leading to full-time employment.

The announcement comes just days after Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri met with legendary fashion designer and Gucci collaborator, Dapper Dan, as well as other community members in Harlem to hear their perspectives following the backlash of the sweater.

Celebrities like 50 Cent, T.I. and Spike Lee decided to boycott the luxury company and encourage their fans to do the same. That's when Dapper Don moved to have the meeting with the CEO and community leaders.

Following the meeting, Dapper Dan tweeted that the meeting's participants "made great demands" of Gucci. He also announced plans of a town hall meeting in Harlem "for us to talk about what they have proposed."

"I am particularly grateful to Dapper Dan for the role he has played in bringing community leaders together to offer us their counsel at this time," Bizzarri said in a statement.

After Gucci apologized for the sweater, creative director Alessandro Michele claimed the sweater was not inspired by blackface but by the late Leigh Bowery, a performance artist, club promoter and fashion designer who often used extravagant face makeup and costumes.

"I look forward to welcoming new perspectives to my team and together working even harder for Gucci to represent a voice for inclusivity," Michele said in a statement Friday.

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