Luxury fashion designer Prada announced Wednesday that it will form a diversity council that will “elevate voices of color within the company and fashion industry at large,” the Associated Press reported.

Prada told the AP that the company established the council, chaired by artist Theaster Gates and director Ava DuVernay, to develop “diverse talent” and to create more opportunities for people of color.

“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company,” Miuccia Prada, CEO and creative director, said in statement to the AP. “In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live.”


The announcement follows after backlash Prada received last year over a product that critics said evoked racist imagery.

Prominent celebrities, including director Spike Lee and rapper T.I., have threatened to boycott Prada and luxury brand Gucci in recent days following fashion items that they said recalled blackface caricatures. 

Prada apologized in December and quickly withdrew bag charms that resembled black monkeys with large red lips. Gucci removed a black balaclava sweater this month that could be pulled over the wearer's face and featured exaggerated red lips. Critics said both products were reminiscent of blackface caricatures.

Lee posted on Instagram this week vowing to boycott purchasing or wearing Prada and Gucci “until they hire some black designers.”

“They don't have a clue when it comes to racist, blackface hateful imagery,” Lee wrote.

Miuccia Prada told the AP that the initiative would “help us grow not only as a company, but also as individuals.”