PARIS — French luxury groups and their brands have been weighing in on racial equality both publicly and privately, emphasizing their commitment to fighting discrimination after last week’s killing of George Floyd by police prompted protests around the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
Kering said on Tuesday that it would donate to the NAACP, which fights race-based discrimination in the U.S., and Campaign Zero, an organization working to reduce police violence.
“Kering and all its brands stand in solidarity against racism. Too many black lives have been lost in the fight for equality in America. We will not stand by silently,” the group said in a statement.
The company went on to list its brands, which include Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, saying that they all “acknowledge that words alone are not enough and want to contribute to organizations focused on combating systemic racism and ending police violence toward the black community in the U.S.
“Everyday, the group and its brands will continue to develop initiatives and internal programs to foster respect, equality and fairness, recognizing that it is a journey and we are committed to continuously doing the work,” added Kering, which has also been communicating internally with employees on the issue.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which owns companies ranging from Sephora to Dior, told employees this week it plans to increase efforts to fight unconscious bias and help its brands promote equality, according to an internal e-mail seen by WWD.
“We plan to accelerate our efforts to combat unconscious bias and support our brands in helping to make sure that they meet the highest standards in promoting equality, for every person we work with and serve in the U.S. and around the world,” Anish Melwani, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH in the U.S., said in an internal memo distributed on Monday.
“The events over the past several days in Minneapolis and in cities around the United States are heartbreaking. On behalf of the global leadership of the LVMH Group, we stand with the black community and condemn the injustice, intolerance and tragedy we have seen,” he said.
The group expressed its commitment to treating employees “fairly and with dignity,” and noted it celebrates varied backgrounds through diversity and inclusion programs.
“What we have witnessed over the past few days tells us that we must strive to do even more — to ensure that racism and prejudice never find a place in our group,” Melwani continued, noting LVMH plans to draw on internal and external resources to ensure an “unyielding dedication to inclusivity” is reflected in company policies, practices and “the way we treat each other.”
Melwani closed the letter with an appeal to individual employees.
“Thank you to each of you for your commitment to these principles. We are all at our best when we are learning from each other and treating everyone with the respect they deserve,” the executive said.
The subject line of the e-mail reads “Dignity, equality and inclusion.”
In an example of the flurry of efforts by fashion labels belonging to luxury groups, Gucci executives shared a letter on social media on Tuesday. Co-signed by ceo Marco Bizzari, designer Alessandro Michele and all employees, the letter said they stand with those demanding justice for violence against black men and women.
Through Gucci’s North American Changemakers Impact Fund, Gucci is supporting donations to the NAACP, Campaign Zero and Know Your Rights Camp, in addition to commitments on behalf of Kering brands. Gucci supported the NAACP last year, supporting the organization’s awards and Campaign Zero rounders DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett are part of Gucci’s North American Changemakers council. It has also been working with Colin Kaepernick and his Know Your Rights Camp. The brand is holding a pause on Thursday in the U.S., giving employees “a day of reflection, to honor the memorial for George Floyd and the many other lives lost, and to recommit ourselves to being part of the solution,” it said.
Balenciaga announced on Instagram that it is setting up an annual donation on May 25 to the NAACP as well as a fund to support local actions against racism in France, noting that the financial support is “only the beginning of what is to be done in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”
While many fashion and retail companies have moved quickly to send out strong statements condemning racism and donating to organizations supporting diversity, some have experienced a backlash for a lack of diversity in leadership.
Nike’s “Don’t Do It” video was met with questions over the tangible impact of a minute-long video, while L’Oréal was criticized for posting a public comment in support of Black Lives Matter, including by a model it fired two years ago after she spoke out publicly on race.
Last year Gucci, moved quickly to implement a number of initiatives to improve cultural diversity and awareness throughout the company globally, including appointing a global diversity officer, after a Gucci balaclava-style sweater sparked accusations that it evoked blackface; sales in the U.S. were impacted that year.