Whole new learning curve

When it comes to the name Prada, it is not hard to associate it with luxury and beautiful Italian craftsmanship. But the brand is proving to be more than just a pretty face, with its recent announcement of a number of educational initiatives aimed at "further deepening its commitment to...

Crystal Wu

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

When it comes to the name Prada, it is not hard to associate it with luxury and beautiful Italian craftsmanship.

But the brand is proving to be more than just a pretty face, with its recent announcement of a number of educational initiatives aimed at "further deepening its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within the company and the fashion industry as a whole."

The initiatives in the announcement comprise a scholarship, an internship, a design lab, and an education module in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund.

"Prada Group is taking real and significant actions that will expand career and professional opportunities for people of color in the fashion industry," said Malika Savell, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Prada North America.

Partnering with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Prada Group will be offering scholarships to two students - one to an American student who is pursuing fashion and the other to a female student from either Ghana or Kenya - that covers tuition, accommodation and meals for their programs.

The first award winners will be enrolling in the autumn semester of 2021 and will receive a working opportunity with the group, as well as mentorships with industry leaders.

The president of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Joyce Brown, said: "FIT is proud to partner with Prada in its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

"These substantial programs and initiatives offer great opportunities to aspiring fashion designers of color throughout the world - two of whom will study at FIT as recipients of these thoughtful and generous scholarships."

The group is also launching a paid internship called the Generation Prada Internship, where interns will have hands-on opportunities within different teams of the Prada Group, including merchandising, retail operations, public relations, events, finance, logistics and the diversity, equity and inclusion team, just to name a few.

"We recognize the barriers to entering the fashion industry and the importance of representation, so we want to develop many new programs that will advance and mentor aspiring fashion professionals, while investing in the next generation of diverse talent," said Savell.

The focus on African countries also continues in the education module developed in partnership with the United Nations agency UNFPA, which targets young women in Ghana and Kenya, to promote gender equality and social change with fashion and design.

"Fashion is a powerful force that can help shape culture to uplift women and girls," said Mariarosa Cutillo, chief of the strategic partnerships branch in the Division of Communications and Strategic Partnerships of the UNFPA.

"UNFPA is proud to partner with global fashion leader Prada on an education module for young women in Kenya and Ghana.

"This collaboration represents a unique opportunity to increase the social impact of the fashion industry and promote gender equality."

Another of the group's initiatives works with Dorchester Industries, which was founded by Theaster Gates, the cochair of the group's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.

"I am honored to continue my work with Prada," said Gates.

"I've seen their commitment to diverse voices first hand and look forward to extending their generosity to an emerging generation of artists and designers and creative workers who have been often overlooked."

The Prada + Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, which will run for three years, will invite designers of color in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to work on defined projects while training and working alongside each other.

One of the artists or designers will also receive a grant from the group to launch their own capsule during their time in the space.

"We are extremely proud of these programs, which reflect Prada Group's commitment to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent and to creating an inclusive culture," said Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group's head of marketing and head of corporate social responsibility.

"These initiatives mark real progress, and we look forward to building on this momentum to create more opportunities that increase diversity and representation both within Prada and in the fashion industry today and in the future."

crystalhl.wu@singtaonewscorp.com