Balenciaga Scholarship Gives Two Students of Color Tuition to Pratt Institute

Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of fashion house Balenciaga, pledged two four-year scholarships for two students of color to attend Pratt Institute. The Black Alumni of Pratt honored the Georgian fashion designer during the “2019 Celebration of the Creative Spirit” Scholarship Benefit Gala in Manhattan on May 7. The annual gala aims to honor “visionaries in art and design” whose accomplishments are in line with Pratt Institute.

Although Gvasalia was unable to attend the gala, his fashion house committed to offering full rides for two Black and Latinx students through the Black Alumni of Pratt organization. The Black Alumni of Pratt (BAP) have helped provide Black and Latinx students with stipends and scholarships to study art and design for 28 years, according to Good Day New York. The alumni group’s scholarship fund has raised more than $5 million.

"The Black Alumni of Pratt is an integral part of Pratt Institute and rooted in its rich legacy. We are thrilled that Balenciaga has made a commitment to support the efforts of The Black Alumni of Pratt," Pratt Institute said in a statement to The North Star. Tuition for undergraduate students at Pratt is $51,754 for the upcoming academic year. Those costs can surpass $70,000 a year once fees, room and board, and book costs are added.

Balenciaga is not the only major fashion label making moves to address the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. In February, fashion house Prada announced that Black filmmaker, activist, and Hollywood icon Ava Duvernay would co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council “to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.” Artist and activist Theaster Gates was also tapped for a role on the council.

The Italian luxury fashion house made the announcement following intense backlash for selling monkey-faced keychains that were reminiscent of blackface. According to Elle, Prada’s new initiative also involved working with universities and colleges to create internship opportunities, sponsorships, and training programs at Prada offices in the US and around the world.

“In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with long-time collaborators, Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates, on this important initiative,” Miuccia Prada, CEO and lead creative director at Prada, said in a statement at the time. “We look forward to working with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to help us grow not only as a company but also as individuals.”

Meanwhile, following widespread backlash over a balaclava turtleneck that resembled blackface, fashion label Gucci also announced a new “Diversity And Inclusion Plan.” The four-pronged initiative included a pledge to hire diverse candidates, as well as a multi-cultural design scholarship program in partnership with fashion schools around the world.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.