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After Gucci debuted a black balaclava sweater that looked strikingly similar to blackface imagery, it didn’t take long for social media to throw the luxury house into the pool of “cancelled” designer brands. Now, Gucci is on a mission to regain the public’s trust and with the help of legendary Harlem designer Dapper Dan, the brand announced what its first step would be: the Gucci Changemakers program.
The initiative, designed to “support industry change and to foster unity through community action,” includes three different divisions. First, the Gucci Changemakers Fund, a $5 million fund that will be used to build “strong connections and opportunities within the African-American community and communities of color at-large, while bringing positive change and inspiring solutions for a better future,” the brand explained in a press release.
Gucci is also rolling out its Gucci Changemakers Scholarship program, which will provide funding to college students who are interested in working in the fashion industry. Students who get accepted into the program (applicants will be selected by the Changemakers Council) will be given a $20,000 grant to help fund their education over the course of four years. The third sector of Gucci’s new initiative is the Gucci Changemakers Volunteering program. According to a press release, Gucci Changemakers Volunteering Program “empowers all 18,000 Gucci employees worldwide to dedicate up to 4 paid days off for volunteering activities in their local communities. This represents up to 8,000 days of volunteer support in North America, the first region in the global rollout, where volunteering opportunities cover four main pillars: equality; support for refugees and the homeless; protection of the environment; and education.”
A day prior to Gucci’s announcement, Dapper Dan, who collaborated with the luxury house on a capsule collection last year, shared his excitement about Gucci’s new plan on Instagram.
“Black designers and fashion professionals will be given new opportunities through these new initiatives. It is imperative that we have opportunities to learn on a world-class level, and also have a seat at the table to say how we should be represented,” he wrote in a note. “Through our work together, Gucci is in a position to steer the overall industry toward becoming a better, more inclusive one. This does not end with Gucci, it begins with Gucci.”