Uh Oh Moschino: The latest brand hit with allegations of discrimination

Here we are, a mere few weeks into 2019, and fashion brands STILL don’t know how to act right.

This time, the offender is the Italian brand, Moschino, who is best known for their bold and satire laden pieces. Literally short months after Moschino dropped heavily hip-hop-influenced collection with H&M (barely recovering from their own racist marketing misstep), the Italian luxury label is being sued for racial profiling and discrimination by a former employee.

Shamael Lataillade, a Haitian-American and former employee of Moschino, makes several claims against her store managers at a Moschino store in West Hollywood, including saying that the supervisor discriminated against her and mocked her as someone who “practices voodoo”.

However, the most incendiary of Shamael’s claims is the use of codename “Serena” for Black customers who they felt couldn’t afford anything in the store. Serena, like Serena Williams, the greatest athlete alive right now, who could easily buy the entirety of that particular Moschino boutique if she so chose.

In her lawsuit, Shamael alleges that the store supervisor instructed store employees to watch black shoppers in particular, and to watch them particularly closely “if they didn’t have diamonds or carry name brands.” Store associates were also instructed to tell so-called “Serenas” certain items were out of stock in order to get them out of the store. The suit also alleges that the supervisor in question would record license plate numbers of black clients, and in one instance, called the police on a “suspicious” customer, Shamael says. That customer “turned out to be a high-profile rapper.”

Moschino has denied the allegations saying “complies with applicable equal employment laws and values and respects all customers and clients regardless of their race or background.” Interestingly enough, Shamael was terminated for speaking out against the codeword and other racist practices occurring at the store to Moschino corporate according to the suit.

To be honest, Moschino is a surprising brand to see this behavior from. This label is best associated with rappers like Offset and Cardi B among many others. The label’s creator, Jeremy Scott, has spoken out about gun violence and gun control as well as many other issues.

That all being said, a brand can be easily taken down by the individuals within it. After all, a brand is not a person but is comprised of many people. People with their own biases. People with their own ideas and ideals. People with their own hatred. While Moschino the brand may easily align itself with hip hop culture and people of color, individuals who work within that brand can just as easily not align themselves with those same ideals.

This post was originally shared on The Reclaimed Blog.

Whitney Alese is a writer, podcaster and cultural commentator. Featured in WIRED Magazine (September 2020). She is based in Philadelphia.

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