Prada Diversity Programs Laid Out After Racist Imagery Incident

A month before the coronavirus pandemic upended New York, fashion label Prada promised the city’s Commission on Human Rights it would take internal and external measures to address charges of racism.

On Thursday, the company announced a series of programs aimed at improving diversity in its workforce and in the fashion industry as a whole, including a paid internship program, scholarships to the Fashion Institute of Technology and a partnership with Dorchester Industries to create a three-year “design lab,” among other steps, all aimed at people from minority communities.

“Prada Group is taking real and significant actions that will expand career and professional opportunities for people of color in the fashion industry,” Malika Savell, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Prada North America, said in a company release. She added that Prada recognizes “the barriers to entering the fashion industry and the importance of representation.”

The New York City Commission on Human Rights opened an inquiry into Prada after the company came under fire for selling figurines in 2018 called out for their strong resemblance to racist caricatures historically used to dehumanize Black people. To settle the investigation, Prada agreed to “invest in restorative justice efforts to combat anti-Black racism and promote diversity and inclusion in Prada’s business activities, advertising and products,” according to a February 2020 statement.

The retailer declined to say how much it will spend on the new programs.

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