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balenciaga are offering full scholarships to poc students at pratt

With two places up for grabs at New York’s Pratt Institute, it’s a step in the right direction for African-American and Latinx representation in fashion and the arts.

by Liam Hess
|
09 May 2019, 11:05am

Photography Mitchell Sams

Last night in New York one of the city’s most storied academic institutions, Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, held its annual Celebration of the Creative Spirit -- this time, with a very special Creative Spirit award being given to the creative director of Balenciaga and Vetements, Demna Gvasalia.

Even if Demna himself was unable to attend, he made sure to repay the favour: in a commitment to the Black Alumni of Pratt group, he has pledged to provide two full four-year scholarships to a pair of students of African-American or Latinx descent. (Thankfully, there’s plenty of money in the bank at Balenciaga for him to be able to do so: the brand’s annual revenues are said to have more than doubled since he took the helm back in 2015.)

Even if increased diversity is one of the most important challenges the worlds of fashion and the arts face, attempts by fashion houses to address the problem have had varying degrees of success. While Gucci addressed the scandal surrounding its blackface balaclavas by investing in a sweeping global diversity and inclusivity initiative that included a $5 million fund for scholarships and community-based programs, and Prada has announced its own Diversity and Inclusivity Advisory council co-chaired by director Ava DuVernay and artist Theaster Gates, there are still plenty of examples of other houses have struggled to respond appropriately to this urgent need for change.

With the Black Alumni of Pratt group first established in 1990, their pioneering work providing access to higher education isn’t the worst place to start for brands looking to understand how best to encourage diversity in the industry from the ground up -- and is the perfect partner for Balenciaga moving forward.

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