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Chanel hires first Head of Diversity & Inclusion

By Marjorie van Elven


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Chanel has created a new C-suite role to improve inclusion and diversity within the company and avoid any faux pas that may offend consumers based on gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. The French luxury house has tapped Fiona Pargeter to be its first Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Business of Fashion reports.

Pargeter used to occupy a similar role at Swiss Bank UBS, according to her Linkedin profile. She joined the company almost 20 years ago, starting to dedicate herself to the promotion of diversity and inclusion in 2009.

Chanel told BoF that Pargeter’s appointment is a sign of the label’s “commitment and the importance of these issues for the house”. It is worth noting that Chanel’s longtime creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away in February, frequently stirred controversy with his remarks on themes like women’s beauty and body weight. “No one wants to see curvy women on the runway,” he once said in an episode of Le Grand 8. Commenting on the effects of the #MeToo movement on the fashion industry, Lagerfeld told Numero magazine: “if you don't want your pants pulled about, don't become a model”.

The late fashion designer also sparked outrage over his views on immigration: “one cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place,” he said of Angela Merkel’s immigration policy to a French television show.

It looks, therefore, like Lagerfeld’s passing has paved the way for Chanel to follow in other labels’ footsteps in adopting measures to meet the increasing consumer demand for positive social impact. Following an outcry over a hoodie with string ties resembling a noose, Burberry announced in February that it would form an advisory board of external experts in inclusion and diversity, set up concrete goals to increase the diversity of its workforce and provide training on diversity and inclusion to its employees.

Head of Diversity & Inclusion to become a staple position in fashion?

Similarly, Gucci promised to hire directors for inclusion and diversity at both regional and global levels, as well as setting up a multicultural design scholarship program, after a sweater design reminded many consumers of blackface. Prada was also accused of referencing blackface because of a key chain, which led the Italian label to create a diversity and inclusion advisory council led by artists and activists Theaster Gates and Ava DuVernay.

Photo: Chanel sunglasses SS18, source Chanel website

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