Gucci Launches Scholarship Program to Promote Diversity

Gucci announced that it has launched a $1.5 million multi-year US university scholarship program for students who are not fully represented in the fashion industry.

The Gucci Changemakers Scholarship will distribute $1.5 million over the course of four years to two programs — Gucci Changemakers Scholars and Gucci Changemakers X CFDA Scholars by Design. The programs intend “to ensure a new era of diverse and exceptional young people will gain opportunities and experiences across the fashion industry,” according to a news release.

“With the scholarship program, we aim to create opportunities and visibility for traditionally underrepresented creatives,” Changemakers Council Co-Chair, lawyer, and writer Yaseen Eldik said in a statement. “Our goal is to break down barriers, particularly financial, and make fashion more diverse and inclusive.”

Students who are eligible for the program must either plan to attend or be currently enrolled in a four-year college or university in the US. The Italian fashion house noted that there will be “special consideration” for students who are living or studying in one of the Gucci Changemaker cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, DC. There will also be special consideration for applicants who plan to attend or are currently attending a historically Black college and university, according to the news release.

Students who receive a scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year will be awarded up to $20,000 each. Applications are due by December 31, 2019 and can be submitted online. The news of the scholarship program comes just a few months after the company appointed Renée Tirado to serve as the new global head of diversity, equity and inclusion, The Hollywood Reporter previously reported. Marco Bizzari, the CEO and President of the company, said Tirado will help the company “to put culture — self-expression and inclusivity — at the center of what we do.”

“Since 2015, [Gucci’s creative director] Alessandro [Michele] and I have worked to put culture — self-expression and inclusivity — at the center of what we do,” Bizzarri said in a previous statement. “This appointment is a fundamental building block to further our commitment and support the initiatives already in place. As a learning organization, we have challenged ourselves over the last few months to accelerate our vision to develop a strong organization.”

“I am confident that Renée will help us create the meaningful change we want to see not only in our company but in the fashion industry… Renée believes that diversity and equity should be a daily way of being,” he continued.

Tirado, previously the chief diversity and inclusion officer for Major League Baseball, expressed plans to assemble a global team “to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace and increase workforce diversity as it relates to Gucci’s business and initiatives.” She also is working with the Gucci Changemakers Council, a “community fund and scholarship program for North America alongside a global volunteering program,” according to a previous statement from the company.

“I am in the business of making human connections that start with the foundation of inclusivity, respect, and diversity to ensure Gucci remains culturally relevant and economically competitive. I am honored to join a company that puts these non-negotiable values at the forefront of their business model, not as a ‘nice to have’ but as a key component of its business strategy,” Tirado said in a statement.

Tirado was appointed a few months after the Italian fashion house issued an apology for a sweater it released in February that resembled blackface, NPR previously reported. The sweater, which featured a roll-up collar that covered the face under the nose with a wide red lip outline around the mouth, sparked outrage on social media. It was originally a part of Gucci’s Fall Winter 2018 line and cost $890.

“We can confirm that the item has been removed from our online store and all physical stores,” the previous statement from the company read. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.