NEW YORK, N.Y. – Luxury fashion brand Prada will take steps including racial equity training for its employees in New York City and executives in Milan, as well as hiring a diversity officer, as part of a settlement with the city over the 2018 display of merchandise that contained racist imagery.
The agreement, announced Wednesday by the city's Commission on Human Rights, was a first for the city in terms of holding a brand responsible for its imagery, said Demoya Gordon, the commission attorney who led the negotiations.
“We've approached this from the point of view of wanting to make sure this never happens again by putting in place measures to change the company culture," she said.
The issue dates to December 2018, when an uproar arose over a window display of figurines in Prada's Soho store that were black with oversize red lips, likened to blackface and dehumanizing caricatures of black people. Prada pulled the figurines and said they weren't intended to reference blackface.
There was no declaration of any wrongdoing in the settlement language. The settlement was first reported by The New York Times.
“We share the New York City Commission on Human Rights' commitment to ensuring that diverse perspectives are represented and respected, and we are pleased that our diversity and inclusion initiatives are aligned with their vision for a more equitable, inclusive industry," Prada said in an emailed statement.
“With this momentum toward creating meaningful progress, we look forward to continuing and strengthening our diversity and inclusion efforts at Prada and across the industry,” the fashion house continued. "Prada is gratified to have been able to collaborate with the New York City Commission on Human Rights on a mutually agreeable conclusion."
The city's commission has the power to investigate any violation of the city's human rights law, which bars discrimination on a number of different bases, including race.
The agreement also calls for Prada to develop a scholarship program, and within 90 days to show the agency the candidates for the diversity and inclusion officer.
That officer is expected to review Prada's advertising, as well as the products sold in the U.S. The settlement also says Prada needs to make sure a diversity and inclusion initiative that the fashion house launched on its own shortly after the incident remains in place for at least six years, with regular reports back to the commission.