Alessandro Michele’s appointment as creative director at Gucci in 2015 has seen the brand transformed from respected design giant to one of the most exciting and innovative international houses of the moment. Initially, Michele was criticised for his casting choices – catwalk shows and campaigns were made up almost exclusively of Caucasian models.
However, back in January, ‘audition videos’ posted on the Italian brand’s official Instagram account indicated that it would be featuring solely models of colour in its upcoming Pre-Fall 2017 campaign – a sure sign of progress both for the brand and for the wider industry.
Now, further steps have been taken to ensure a diverse and representative vision for the fashion house. WWD yesterday reported that Gucci has become "the first luxury fashion brand to join Parks, an Italian nonprofit" which helps companies to expand their inclusivity, with "a focus on sexual orientation and gender identity".
A statement on Parks’ website states that "we believe that inclusion and respect can only really make a difference when they encompass everybody". The organisation, which is named after American civil rights activist Rosa Parks, offers meaningful action to its partners through consultancy, training, events organisation and internal surveys.
Gucci’s U-turn can also be credited to parent company Kering Group, who have recently made efforts to "address the issue of diversity in all its aspects, particularly gender diversity". In 2010 the group launched its Leadership and Gender Diversity programme, promoting equal opportunities in the workplace, while last year it signed a three-year agreement with UN Women French National Committee, pledging "active participation in the global organisation’s raising-awareness campaigns such as HeForShe".
Positive headway indeed, and other brands will have to take note. Audiences are vocal in their call for diverse and inclusive representation, and designers risk falling behind if they’re not seen to reflect that. It seems only fitting that Gucci should showcase multifaceted and interesting models when its design aesthetic is so experimental, boundary-pushing and thoroughly modern. Let’s hope the progress continues.