The racist belief that black people devalue luxury brands is gradually changing. The rapper Nicki Minaj launched a capsule line with Fendi last year; and after years of ignoring him, Gucci employed the rapper Gucci Mane to front a campaign. But fashion’s problem with race remains, as recent scandals can show. In 2018, a display of tchotchkes in the windows of a New York Prada boutique included one that looked like a Golliwog. When Gucci was forced to withdraw a balaclava polo neck jumper from its shops in 2019, after it was said to resemble blackface, Day summoned the company’s president and CEO, Marco Bizzarri, for a meeting in Harlem to hold the brand accountable. Luxury labels, he says, want fast access to black culture, often without truly trying to understand the meaning or history behind it.
“Even me, I feel corny sometimes because the culture is moving so fast,” he says. “Black American culture is so popular right now that they look for anything they can use, without studying the significance of what it is to use them.”