Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What Glass Ceiling? Women In Fashion

By way of a disclaimer I will note from the off that I am not making a sweeping statement that women do not experience difficulties in the workplace. I have penned this piece as a compilation of the experiences of the women I have encountered during my time in the fashion industry, all of whom in one way or another have inspired me beyond measure and have surprised me with their own views of women in the workplace.

Whilst the Financial Times reports weekly on the disproportionally low percentage of female directors in FTSE 100 companies, within the fashion world women power ahead with ferocious success, championing an industry that is worth over £20billion in the UK alone. 


Chairperson of the Prada Group which owns Prada, Miu Miu and Church's. Miuccia Prada is, in monetary terms, the most successful female designer in the world. The group's revenue is approximately £2billion  per annum and whilst the position of CEO belongs to Patrizio Bertelli, as Mrs Prada's husband there is little worry of her top position being usurped. Mrs Prada has become famous for making the weird and the obscure fashion's most wanted. It was Prada who was the trailblazer of the oversized chunky heel back in AW12, it was  then mimicked across the high street and became favourites of Urban Outfitters and Topshop. 


The American CEO of Burberry has this month been confirmed as the highest paid CEO in the UK, raking in £16million (without taking into account share options).  Ahrendts has proven she is not just filling a directive quota. Burberry's share price has tripled during her reign at the helm of the business, which she along with creative director Christopher Bailey largely responsible for. 


The recently departed creative director of Mulberry has made her might known. Leaving over "disagreements with management over creative and operational strategy" the departure has caused a resultant tumble in the leather goods powerhouse share price. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and who has the right to say she shouldn't do otherwise having rocketed the brand into global awareness, creating the 'Alexa' and 'Del-Ray' bags and making the postman's lock the iconic feature on the "it" bag for both men and women.  


Having had the pleasure of interning at Roksanda Ilincic I personally attest the power of the Serbian born designer, with her designs draping the shoulders of even more powerful and influential figures: Michelle Obama, Samantha Cameron.... Harper Beckham (Ilincic's blossom line for girls). The global success is masterminded by a team of women from the designer's London base. The dedication of Ilincic and her surrounding female team have been rewarded winning The British Fashion Awards Red Carpet Award in 2012, adding to the many received before it.

The women who I have worked for and with succeed because they work with disregard for the idea that there is any inequality which is a wonderfully simple ideology that could be emulated across other industries. I have been surprised to hear women in fashion critique those in other industries. Stating that women who have children choose to do so and special allowances shouldn't necessarily be made for them. An extreme view this maybe, however, when it comes from those in positions of power who have succeeded in an industry which is ferociously competitive and gruelling at the bottom and subsequently had children, makes it difficult to disagree with them. Simply do not give the thought of gender inequality the time of day.

We sadly live in a contradicting world that pushes for more women in the top corporate positions, yet equally criticises women who choose to not pursue motherhood, the primary reason for leaving leaving work. Parents tell their children to ignore bullies in the playground and I feel a similar ideology can be scaled upwards to adult life. All I can advocate is the concept that positivity breeds success. So when the FT or other newspapers report that women need more representation on boards of directors, I recommend that the women trying to get there should draw inspiration from the women of the fashion world. 

Fight and be fabulous - it's a recipe for winning. 

Is that Cristo Clear


1 comment:

  1. I'm loving the insights and realizations you've taken from your experience while working in the fashion industry. In this world, regardless of our gender, it's going to be very hard to reach the top of whatever ladder we are climbing. However, I totally agree with you that everyone should just keep on fighting whatever hindrance they may face, whether it may be misogyny, hate or being gender biased. One should also do all that while looking fabulous at the same time!

    Christian Pearson @ League of Women Voters