The Gucci ceo was in New York Wednesday evening for the Marvin Traub Lecture. What was meant to be an interview spanning his career and his tenure at Gucci became heavily dominated by talk of the fashion house’s recent faux pas a balaclava-style sweater that critics said evoked blackface. “Gucci is often in the news for their extraordinary commercial success, but also for their commitments to communities around the world. Explanation of what went wrong, telling the audience that the sweater was debuted at a February 2018 show, but “nothing happened” until it was recently linked to blackface on Twitter, which sparked the social media storm.
He admitted that when his team first told him about this, he didn’t know what they were talking about, which he puts down to ignorance on his behalf. “We apologized because of this mistake, because of this ignorance,” adding that it was not at all intentional. “We are coming from a different culture. We are Italian. We don’t know all the cultural differences.”
He continued that the sweater goes completely against the brand’s culture and that’s “why we are suffering at Gucci….It’s not a matter of how much revenue we’re going to lose, if we’re going to lose revenue.” “I thought I was very, very open. I thought I knew many, many things. I didn’t know that that created this event….in a way it’s a good way to be discussing the topic with the leaders of the community to understand how we can improve ourselves.”
When talk moved to diversity among Gucci’s top echelon during the Q&A session with students, he responded that he didn’t know the numbers off the top of his head.