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Prada settlement with NYC over ‘racist iconography’ in window display

Controversial Prada window display

Source: Chinyere Ezie

The New York City Commission on Human Rights reached a settlement with Prada USA over a merchandise display that the Commission said used “racist iconography.”

The window display was featured at a Prada store in downtown Manhattan in December 2018. Used to showcase items from the luxury retailer’s “Pradamalia” collection, the display included monkey figurines that the Commission said evoked images of Sambo, a racist caricature used to dehumanize black people.

As part of the settlement, announced Wednesday by the Commission, Prada will have to invest in efforts that combat racism and promote diversity and inclusion.

The retailer must require all of its New York employees and Milan executives to complete racial equity training. It will also establish a scholarship program for students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in fashion. Prada must hire an executive-level diversity and inclusion officer, as well.

“The measures Prada has committed to have far-reaching implications for the fashion industry as a whole,” said Sapna V. Raj, deputy commissioner of the law enforcement bureau of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, in a press release.

A Prada spokesperson called the settlement “a mutually agreeable conclusion” in a statement to CNBC. 

“We share the New York City Commission on Human Rights’ commitment to ensuring that diverse perspectives are represented and respected,” the spokesperson said. “We are pleased that our diversity and inclusion initiatives are aligned with their vision for a more equitable, inclusive industry.”

Prada has experienced controversy over racism in the past. In 2018, it pulled an accessory line featuring a character with brown skin and large red lips that people said resembled blackface.

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