The departure of Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen signifies not only the conclusion of her 26-year tenure at the British luxury brand but also marks the absence of female creative directors among Kering's top fashion houses. Kering, which owns brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, and Brioni, currently employs creative leaders who are exclusively white men.
While Kering had previously announced a commitment to advancing equal opportunities for men and women at all levels, the numbers reveal a disparity. Of the 29 creative directors who have helmed its six major fashion houses, only five have been women, accounting for a mere 17 percent, said Forbes. It's important to note that Kering's overall workforce comprises 63 percent women, with women occupying 57 percent of managerial roles, 38 percent of the executive committee, and 40 percent of the board of directors. Kering aims to achieve gender balance by the end of 2025, Business of Fashion said.
Only one Black designer in a top post
In contrast, LVMH made history by appointing its first Black leader, Virgil Abloh, at its flagship luxury brand, where he achieved significant global success. The company hopes to replicate this success under its new creative director, Pharrell Williams, who is also Black. Forbes highlighted that racial diversity in top creative roles remains lacking among the major luxury groups, which include LVMH, Kering and Richemont, with only Pharrell Williams occupying a top position.
The fashion industry has been more open to LGBTQIA+ hires compared to other sectors, but it still grapples with representation challenges in terms of gender and racial diversity, particularly in leadership roles. People of Colour also face underrepresentation in fashion education, with opportunities scarce for students in both applications and curricula, as well as a lack of professors and tutors.
Seán McGirr's appointment as Alexander McQueen's new creative director within the Kering portfolio has sparked broader conversations about diversity within the company and, by extension, throughout the fashion industry.