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Prada Announces Ava DuVernay as Co-Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council

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Prada announced in a statement on Wednesday that director and producer Ava DuVernay and artist and activist Theaster Gates will co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, the purpose of which is to “elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.”

DuVernay, Gates, and other prominent academic and cultural experts as part of the council, will help advise the company with education, training programs and talent development, in an effort to “close the inclusion gap in the fashion industry.” This will include Prada sponsoring scholarships and training programs in the United States and in all Prada offices internationally. The council’s formation follows a viral backlash after the design of a $550 monkey keychain from its Pradmalia collection was compared to blackface imagery, leading to the accessory being pulled and the company offering an official apology that promised to “learn from this and do better.” Now it looks like Prada’s making good on their commitment to do better with the formation of their Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.

“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company,” Miuccia Prada, CEO and Lead Creative Director of Prada said in the statement. “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.”

Both DuVernay and Gates have collaborated on projects with Prada in the past. Gates addressed his hopes for the council’s influence in the statement: “My work amplifies the voices that have been absent from broad cultural coversations, and I am happy to partner with Prada to advise on processes that will make the company and industry more reflective of the world today.”

Read the full statement from Prada below.

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com