The new position of a Diversity Chief comes after a year of high-profile, racially charged scandals involving other fashion giants like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.
The French fashion house Chanel joins other large luxury brands in recruiting for more resources devoted to fostering more diverse and inclusive environments. According to the Business of Fashion, Chanel hired Fiona Pargeter to lead the company’s diversity efforts. Pargeter was previously Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Swiss Bank UBS across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Chanel believes Pargeter to be the perfect fit to foster a more inclusive and diverse environment in the company.
“The Head of Diversity & Inclusion is a new role for Chanel, which up until now saw its diversity initiatives handled by its People & Organization department,” – Hypebeast.
Many other luxury brands have faced similar criticism. Prada pulled keychains out of stores in December 2018 after shoppers noted their similarity to blackface caricatures. That November, Dolce & Gabbana cancelled its Shanghai fashion show following an outcry over a commercial depicting a Chinese model eating Italian food with chopsticks, and the leak of racist comments made by the brand’s co-founder Stefano Gabbana. This year, Off-White faced social media backlash when images showed one of its company parties to be made up almost entirely of white employees.
“While there’s still work to be done, changes are already happening within the industry. For example, the Spring/Summer 2019 runways across New York, London, Milan and Paris proved the most racially diverse yet – analysis from The Fashion Spot demonstrated that 36.1 per cent of all casting went to women of colour this year, a 19.1 per cent increase from four years previous,” – AEWorld.
Chanel has seen other major changes this year as well. The iconic fashion label lost its legendary creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away at the age of 85 back in February. That same month Chanel announced Virginie Viard and Eric Pfrunder would succeed Lagerfeld as the brand’s creative director.
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