NEW YORK, NY February 7, 2017
In August, financial services firm Exane BNP Paribas named Gucci one of the “hottest” — aka most visible — luxury brands. (The “brand temperature” ranking was based on the fact that print magazines saw fit to give Gucci more editorial coverage than the label’s print advertising spend warranted.)
Even those of us not in the position to buy $1000 loafers strive to emulate the Gucci aesthetic. In Gucci’s world, masculinity is fluid, individuals are truly individuals and weird is charming. The brand has championed a new, progressive definition of “cool.” It’s even (sort of) taken up the diversity mantle — transgender model Hari Nef made her Milan Fashion Week debut at Gucci’s Fall 2016 menswear show. However, up until now, Gucci’s racial diversity stats have been unimpressive (to say the least). Of the five models who starred in Gucci’s Fall 2016 “Lost in Translation” campaign, one (Mae Lapres) was nonwhite. Its Spring 2017 ads featured one model of color (Elibeidy Danis Martinez) out of six. Meanwhile, Gucci’s runway diversity record is pretty abysmal. For Fall 2016, the brand cast 14 percent models of color. The following season, that percentage dropped to seven.
However, based on a string of recent Instagram posts, the Italian fashion house is amping up its diversity efforts. This Thursday, Gucci posted nine “audition” videos teasing its Pre-Fall 2017 campaign. The clincher? All nine models are black. The clips show the models answering various questions, some (“What does it mean to have a soul?”) more abstract than others (“What’s your dance background?”).
According to the Cut, the ads were cast by Midland Agency, known for casting “real people” models for designers like Eckhaus Latta and Hood by Air. The specifics of the campaign remain under wraps — Gucci has declined to comment on the vids — but this may very well be the brand’s first 100 percent diverse campaign. Which would be glorious, given that Gucci is a tastemaker among luxury brands, a sector notorious for its lackluster to nonexistent diversity efforts.