During Black History Month, several of the worlds largest fashion houses released products that were racially ofensive towards African Americans and one of the biggest culprits was Gucci.
The internet nearly broke when their backfase esque balacava sweater surfaced on social media. They faced so much backlash that celebrities like T.I. and 50 cent boycotted the brand and burned their Gucci merchandise. Dapper Dan who is one of their designers even came forward to confront the brand.
While Gucci apologized for the incident this was not enough. Dap took the lead in calling out Gucci holding them accountable for their actions and setting up a meeting with the CEO.
From that meeting Gucci announced the launch of the Changemakers program which purpose is to promote “industry change and to foster unity through community action” says Gucci.
This program includes three pillars. The first is a $5 million Changemakers fund designed “to support social change by investing in community-based programs across North America.” This fund will focus on building strong connections within the African American community and will assemble a Changemakers Council built up of community leaders and social change experts to do so.
The second pillar is a scholarship program that provides to $20,000 in grant money to college students who want to work in fashion. And The last pillar offers Gucci employees four paid days off to complete any community service activities within their communities.
But what’s interesting in all this is that Gucci, is the only luxury fashion label to made amends with the community they offended. Gucci is the only brand that made leaps and bounds for social impact within African American community. So the question remains; what does this mean for fashion houses now that the top dog has taken action. What will be expected of the other brands that have offended the black community?
As of yet many brands have been silent. At best, they have apologized for their offense and discontinued the sale of that particular product. But is this enough? Will consumers simply accept their apology and glaze over their actions and continue to shop with them?
I don’t quite think so. More and more people are holding brands accountable for their actions.
Just last year there were boycotts against Canada Goose for using animal fur in their products along with advertisements from PETA that admonished the brand for killing animals. Burberry witnessed anti-fur protests as well outside their fashion show during London Fashion Week. Even Mary Katrantzou’s AW 2018 show was interrupted by a protester shouting “Shame on you! Shame on all of you!” to those in attendance.
However will people make the same noise for injustices against the black community? Will people make their voices heard for all of the luxury houses to hear? Will we as blacks get the same respect as animals used for fur?
While it is still to be seen if people will react strongly to these injustices, the actions of Gucci may speak for all of us and set the standard for fashion houses around the world. If Gucci’s Changemakers program somehow brings in more revenue for the company and provides beneficial for their bottom-line, what we may see is social change programs being regarded as a recipe for success within the business models of fashion houses not just an option.
As of now Gucci is setting the standard and hopefully everyone else will follow suit.