As Gucci continues to draw criticism for their balaclava sweater, a turtleneck distinctly resembling blackface, the company's executives have taken steps to confront their evident lack of diversity.
TMZ obtained an internal memo sent to Gucci employees by CEO Marco Bizzarri, in which he cites his ignorance and explains he had been unaware of "the history and significance of blackface." Bizzarri also announced that the company has hired five new designers of culturally diverse backgrounds, who are meant to guarantee that "any product that is, or may be perceived as, culturally insensitive does not get to the production stage."
However, in addition to their attempts to improve cultural awareness, the company also issued updated security protocols for employees who come into contact with "disruptive behavior." Bizzarri explains that "individuals may be coming into our stores to express their concerns or looking for a reaction, and it is important to be extremely cautious, empathetic and focused on de-escalation in the current heightened situation."
The CEO also asks that employees "never engage in a verbal or physical altercation with a client.” Gucci sales associates are instructed to accept any return of the balaclava sweater, in addition to being authorized to apologize on behalf of the company.
News of the internal memo arrives following Gucci's public announcement that they intend on instituting four long-term initiatives meant to embed cultural awareness into the brand. These include onboarding directors tasked with promoting diversity and inclusion, establishing a multicultural design scholarship program, introducing a diversity and inclusivity awareness program, and starting a global exchange program.
Since Gucci's aesthetic revamp with the appointment of creative director Alessandro Michele, the hip-hop community has been some of the brand's most loyal customers. Once seen clad in head-to-toe Gucci, many notable figures have disavowed their allegiance in light of the blackface scandal. Despite Floyd Mayweather's continued support for the Italian fashion house, artists like 50 Cent, T.I. and Soulja Boy have refused to excuse the brand's actions, with the former going as far as lighting Gucci garments on fire in protest.