In my years of studying fashion and countless internships, I’ve observed some realities of the fashion industry I never knew to be real until I experienced them for myself. Today’s post is about shedding some light on the true reality of this disillusioned industry, for those that haven’t experienced it and still think it’s ‘totes fab’…
Wages & Salary
Yes the fashion industry is the second largest money making machine in the world, but guess what- it isn’t well paid. Entry level design salaries in London start of at 20K before tax (if your lucky) which is nothing when you consider that you’ll probably have to move to a big city, into a tiny room & pay extortionate rent rates to make anything of yourself. In New York it actually pays more to be a waitress, disheartening to say the least after an expensive education. They’re are 7,000 UK fashion graduates a year so guess what, you’ll be competing with all those people for that basic wage. On the bright side I’ve noted that opportunities to move up within fashion companies can happen pretty quickly if you pay your dues, & take some calculated risks and do a good job!
The hours are long. In almost every type of company I’ve worked within there really isn’t a set amount of hours you work – you stay as long as you have to get the job done. For me this is extremely frustrating as after years of working for free its annoying to not be paid for overtime. Theres this stigma around complaining about stuff like that because industry jobs are so coveted that it’s sort of something you just have to accept and if someone leaves ontime at like 5.30pm they are sometimes seen as not being dedicated or good at their job – something I completely disagree with. I’m a firm believer in the balance between work life and actually living your life and when your in such a creative industry it’s important to enjoy these fruits of this life to stay inspired! I found London quite hard for this reason as even though I was very close to London I found myself spending 2-3 hours a day wasting away in a stuffy train or tube getting to work. I loved the actual work in London and find the fashion scene more creative there but I prefer the fact Manhattan is way smaller and you can walk almost anywhere!
Nothing is Original
A big thing I would of never of guessed about the industry is the lack of true originality. I’ve worked in everything (just shy of haute couture) from high-end to commercial highstreet and it’s just a fact that 99% of brands out there are copy cats in one way or another. I can almost guarantee in every studio theres a rack full of garments from rival stores or better designers and interns doing catwalk research on what details they can copy. What are these used for you ask? Exact silhouettes & patterns are taken, & prints are copied – literally garment for garment sometimes! The funny thing is all these brands are doing it to eachother so that’s why we see similar styles in a lot of different stores at the same time. As a designer it’s frustrating but I can kind of understand why it happens and accept it to some levels but it definitely opened my eyes to what’s really going on here and makes me question how original every designer house truly is and how far is too far. In design you are constantly collaborating with fabric manufacturers, pattern makers and seamstresses and as mostly visual 3D people it’s just easier to have a physical example of what you are trying to achieve. It puts a new meaning to the saying ‘nothing is new in fashion’ however it makes those unique moments in fashion so much more exciting and inspiring!
Ok, so it’s not all doom and gloom but there’s definitely things that I’ve observed in this industry that I would have had no idea that they existed without experiencing them first hand for myself. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get experience through your studying years to see if it’s an industry you feel suits you. I hope you enjoyed this little ‘behind closed doors’ post, I’d be happy to share more if I think of any and if you enjoyed it! T. x