Gucci is making changes. The Italian fashion brand recently announced a new global programme and scholarship fund, called Gucci Changemakers, that will promote diversity and inclusion throughout the company with a multi-step action plan. The new initiative comes after the brand received backlash over a balaclava sweater resembling blackface earlier this year.
The program includes three separate tiers: the Gucci Changemakers Fund, a scholarship program, and a company-wide volunteering initiative. All three programs are meant to foster racial diversity in both the company and the fashion industry as a whole. The changes come after Harlem couturier Dapper Dan (who has an ongoing collaboration with the brand) met with Gucci’s CEO and President Marco Bizzarri to voice his concerns.
“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 from the brand. “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.”
Dan took to Instagram to share progress on Gucci’s new initiative, revealing he’s been working closely with the brand to help foster such changes.
“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,” Dapper Dan said in a statement from Gucci. “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.”
The first sector of the program, the Gucci Changemakers Fund, is a $5 million fund that will invest in community-based programs, particularly those helping communities of colour, in cities across the U.S. The programs will be selected by the Changemakers Council, a board of advisors including Dapper Dan, Bethann Hardison, Cleo Wade, Will.i.am, and more.
Gucci’s North American Changemakers Council Will Include:
- 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
The second component to Gucci Changemakers is a scholarship program helping a more diverse talent pool of students pursue careers in fashion. Each student selected will receive a $20,000 grant toward their education over the course of four years.
Finally, a new volunteer initiative will allow Gucci’s 18,000 employees across the globe to take up to four paid days off to participate in volunteer work that addresses issues including equality, support for refugees and the homeless, protection of the environment and education.
This article first appeared on ELLE.