Los Angeles-based Gucci CEO Antoine Phillips empowers the next generation of fashion – The Hollywood Reporter
“As a man of color from Los Angeles, I can tell you it’s really about empowering the next generation of creative people of color in different cities. [and] to amplify opportunities, ”says Antoine Phillips of Gucci of the initiative Gucci Changemakers North America, which he launched in 2019 after joining the luxury brand as Los Angeles-based vice president of brand engagement and culture. Its goal is to increase inclusion and diversity in the fashion industry, particularly in 12 major US cities, including LA. for undergraduates from various backgrounds who are considering fashion related careers.
While diversity efforts have been underway at Gucci, the brand went through its own period of calculation two years ago when it faced controversy over a sweater that some believed depicted a face. black. He was taken off the market with an apology and a promise to do better.
Phillips joined Gucci after holding public relations positions at YSL, Armani and Coach, where he was instrumental in presenting their fashion shows at HBCUs. He also worked to create a Changemakers Council to help guide the effort; it includes fashion veterans like Naomi Campbell, Dapper Dan, founder of model agency Bethann Hardison and stylist June Ambrose as well as activists and writers such as DeRay Mckesson, Cleo Wade, Eric Avila and Michaela Angela Davis .
On July 8, Gucci announced 22 new Changemakers Fellows who will each receive a scholarship of up to $ 20,000, in addition to a Gucci in-company mentorship assignment and a six-week virtual summer program for students. inform about various careers in fashion.
“We landed on $ 20,000 because we’ve seen in research that most students of color don’t finish school because of those last dollars, $ 15,000 to $ 20,000,” says Phillips. Another goal of the program is to bring “visibility into some of the roles outside of the design room,” says Phillips. “A lot of students think that if you want to work in fashion, you can only be a stylist or a designer, but you can do store design, you can be a fashion advocate, you can do marketing. and communication, you can do customer engagement. “Over the next four years, Gucci plans to allocate $ 1.5 million to these scholarships.
Among the recipients is 18-year-old Las Vegas-born Quentin Clifford, who decided after a period of pandemic soul-searching to turn away from his study of the violin, to enroll in the Fashion Institute of Merchandising and Design downtown. of LA, and pursue a new outlet in an area he finds more creatively liberating.
Phillips made his fashion debut as a salesperson for Giorgio Armani on Rodeo Drive. “I’m a proud Californian, born in Los Angeles and Long Beach, lived in Compton, Winslow, Orange County, then my parents took us to Riverside and went to Cal State Fullerton,” he said.
On the other side of the coin, Gucci Changemakers‘impact fund supports non-profit organizations such as We are RISE (Resilient, Intelligent, Successful, and Empowered), a socio-emotional workshop and mentoring program started in 2017 in South Los Angeles by elementary school teacher Ebone Smith. She initially got her own pocket to fund We Are RISE for around 35 girls aged 7 to 12, wishing to help her young children recognize their self-esteem and develop coping skills to avoid pitfalls in course. The grant money will allow the program to continue and include field trips to places like the California African American Museum. “I had never been able to take them out of their community because I just didn’t have the funding,” says Smith.
Other nonprofit groups that benefit include Atlanta Quite strange productions, which uses various comic book heroes to promote greater self-esteem in young people; the Human rights campaign, where it will serve to enrich the college experience of LGBTQ students in HBCUs; and Social works, the Chicago-based initiative founded by Chance the Rapper. Gucci Changemakers funding will help launch virtual access to SocialWorks’ mental health initiative, My State of Mind.
Changemakers is also a supporter of the film L’Academy’s Gold Rising internship program, which aims to help students of color, young women, those who identify as LGBTQIA +, people with disabilities, and youth from low-income communities succeed as the next generation of storytellers.
“A lot of times people look at the Academy and don’t understand that we have a fundamental arm and that we depend on grants because a lot of our members are lower limbs and not big stars,” says Christine Simmons, executive director of the ‘AMPAS. . “The grants that we can receive only prolong this work. “
A version of this story first appeared in the July 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.