Prada is teaming up with Dorchester Industries, a design and manufacturing studio owned by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, to create a three-year program that will provide financial support and creative opportunities to artists and designers of color.
The joint project is being dubbed the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab and is being set up in Chicago’s South Side. It will seek to amplify the work of designers in the fashion, furniture, graphic and industrial design by fostering collaboration between artists and various global businesses.
“For too long, our creative communities have possessed the talent but lacked exposure and opportunity. Now more than ever, today’s leading creatives must elevate the work of emerging designers of color and connect them to great companies interested in diverse talent,” said Gates, founder of Dorchester Industries and Rebuild Foundation and co-chair of the Prada Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council.
The first cohort of awardees will be selected and announced in October 2021.
The opening of the lab comes at a time when Prada is enjoying growth in profitability. The Milan-based luxury brand saw a strong improvement in operating profits in the second half of 2020 and has succeeded in maintaining its momentum in 2021. The company’s growth in profitability has come as a result of focussing on local customers and eCommerce. Prada’s eCommerce sales have more than tripled compared to 2019.