Lawsuit Accuses Versace Store for Racism Against Black Customers

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Boy oh boy the racism is being revealed tenfold. First the Victoria's Secret incident a few weeks ago and now Versace is being sued for using a "secret code" for employees to be alerted when Black customers enter the store. Former employee, 23 year old Christopher Sampino worked at the Versace outlet store in Pleasanton, California and claims he was fired for being mixed raced.

Sampino also alleges that during an employee training session, his former manager put him on to the "D410 Code", a "casual" code to state when a Black person walks into the store. According to CNN, Sampino replied to the manager" "You know that I'm African American?" Sampino states that he did not receive sufficient training, was treated poorly and fired after two weeks because he did not "understand luxury" and did not "know the luxury life". The former employee also did not receive pay, nor breaks while working at the establishment. Versace denies these claims and the case status conference will be held March 21, 2017.

While this case is all alleged, none of this surprises me. There have been rumors about blatant racism in the high fashion industry for decades, occurring on the runway and in the stores. Remember when Oprah Winfrey faced discrimination at the Hermes luxury store in Paris? Even big named supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Iman have spoken out about this in this 2013 interview calling out designers like Calvin Klein, Armani, and Donna Karan for not having women of color walk their runways. When I first started getting into fashion design many years ago, I adored lines like Louis Vuitton, Versace, Chanel, Gucci, and others. As I got older, I grew out of (high end) label loving and just appreciated clothing for the style more so than the brand.

I always noticed that there was a huge lack of Black models and even Black employees in these luxury stores. Although in recent times more Black and other poc models are being featured in these haute couture circles, personally I'm still not buying the sincerity. In this day and age, racism, prejudices, diversity and lack of representation discussions are hot topics and many companies are getting on board practicing "tokenism" to save their brands, in my opinion only to keep the poc public satisfied.

With all the stories of racism and a lack of representation occurring with some of these brands, I'm still in awe at how many Black folk still go out and support the companies. Brands like Versace even have a deep rooted relationship with hip-hop and throughout the years, there has still been a fight for representation and issues of discrimination at stores. Am I saying you shouldn't purchase from any high end brands? Not at all. Obviously it's your money and you spend it how you please, but we need to be very mindful of who we support. While I'll never deny the fabulous fashions that Versace and other high end labels have created throughout the decades, and I still find inspiration in them, personally I'd much rather support Black high end designers who are in the business of celebrating and representing Blackness with no issue. Here's a list of Black luxury fashion designers to support: 18 Black Modern Fashion Designers You Should Know About

Sources: Suit: Versace used secret 'code' for black customers

             Lawsuit Accuses Versace of Using ‘Secret Code’ for Black Customers

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