Kering-owned Gucci has hired Renée Tirado to be global head of diversity, equity and inclusion, reporting to brand CEO Marco Bizzarri, according to several news reports.
She arrives from Major League Baseball, where she has been chief diversity and inclusion officer since 2016, according to her LinkedIn page. Before that she led global diversity and inclusion for the Americas at AIG. Kering didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for more details.
The hire follows an emerging effort in luxury fashion to right wrongs. In February, rival fashion house Prada announced that Chicago artist and activist Theaster Gates and award-winning Hollywood writer, director and producer Ava DuVernay will co-chair its new Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. Both initiatives follow controversial brand moves widely condemned as racist.
As part of its response following the release earlier this year of a balaclava sweater resembling blackface, Gucci is seeking to change its internal culture and global brand strategy.
Gucci remains a strong performer in Kering's portfolio. In the first half of this year, Gucci's revenue rose 16.3% on a comparable basis, 12.7% in the second quarter. Sales in its own stores in the first half rose 16.2% and wholesale rose 15.8%, as operating income rose 26.7% year over year, according to a company press release.
Tirado "was suggested by a common friend of the company when the balaclava incident happened, and I was impressed by how she helped us, how she tackled things in an unexpected way," Bizzarri told Women's Wear Daily on Tuesday. "She was very calm and her thinking was long term; she wasn't merely looking at closing that specific issue and I found her eloquent and articulate."
Fashion designer Daniel Day, known as Dapper Dan, a Gucci collaborator, has been among those demanding change.
"Thinking long term" is the only way to ensure that such efforts are effective, according to Shawn Grain Carter, professor of fashion business management at The Fashion Institute of Technology, who developed a course at F.I.T. that focuses on the "triple bottom line of people, planet and profit."
And the only way, in other words, to avoid the kind of problematic releases in fashion that keep coming from companies as diverse as fast-fashion retailer H&M, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Adidas, among others. Prada last year displayed products in the windows of a New York City store that Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan called "unequivocally racist."
Tirado's hire, like Prada's advisory council, is a top-down start. The industry "requires a strong commitment of hiring and promoting Blacks at every executive level within the fashion industry," Carter told Retail Dive earlier this year.