Skilled Labour Exploitation
A Economic Issue
Fairness and equality are values that businesses like to attach to themselves, in order to continue to drive traffic of possible employees and maintain a positive social image. However, in reality, these qualities are not always maintained; despite the brands continuation to market themselves as such. Skilled labourers like placement students, graduates and experienced interns often are subject to brands failing to sustain said values. Skilled labour exploitation requires the hierarchical system that the fashion industry is infamous for, to remain. The recycling of such skilled labourers to ensure an uninterrupted stream of unpaid assistance is a common practise within aspirational brands. Allowing for little to no professional progression of ascension within those roles, payment in experience or the offer to subsidise Zone 1-2 travel costs; cannot realistically support city survival (Suhrawardi, 2019).
Influential creatives such as @betseyjohnson_ have highlighted their encounters with exploitative companies. Calling to combat such culture, accounts like @findyourintern have gained momentum through promoting the education of young creatives to encourage acknowledgement of their power (Instagram, 2019). In doing so, coming generations of creatives could be inspired to harness an increased sense of worth; one that creates the opportunity for conscious navigation in industry. An increase in demand for creative roles that honour paid work, a chance for growth and accreditation could cause a lack of interest within the career possibilities at larger brands. Favouring to employ entrepreneurial skills or smaller start-up brand positions that could offer a nourishing experience, the way in which creative roles are consumed could change. With micro-influencers criminalising brands (Wissman, 2018) and the ever-growing support of 'know-your-rights' creative accounts being communicated through social media platforms (Instagram, 2019), a disparity between employees and employers could have the potential to enlarge. With a possible lack of desire to apply for creative roles within big companies, the fashion economy could begin to falter. Not being able to operate, dominant brands could be forced to rethink their exploitative strategies and respond accordingly to function as normal. With no graduates, experienced interns or placement students to complete tasks fundamental to brands critical paths, economically companies' may not be able to sustain their work flow and therefore, continue on as normal.
Race & Appropriation
A Social Issue
Until quite recently, the fashion industry has had the freedom to be. To be whatever it wants, however it wants, whenever it so chooses. Designers could be 'interpretive' of cultures, marketing teams could play at being provocative and politically risqué. The heads of houses and publications generally were able to dictate how their industry was run from the inside, out. Without any real need to specifically define their motives, explain their creative decisions or take accountability for anything; words like 'Cultural Appropriation' or 'Racism' were either non-existent, hushed away and ignored or something minority creatives had to deal with. However, since the reign of social media, cut-the-crap campaigns such as #MeToo and heavyweight fashion figures like Naomi Campbell repeatedly voicing these issues; 2019 is a different world for the fashion industry. One where accountability, inclusivity and transparency govern everyone. One where heads of houses and publications answer to an Instagram comment, an unfairly treated intern or a whole previously unwelcome community. As a reflection of the times, such social issues are being taken seriously and the self-inflicted damage by brands are significantly changing consumers attitudes towards them. The anger for accountability and transparency and the demand for recompense and immediate, public plan of action are what consumers expect from every brand they engage with. Brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Prada and Skims have equally jeopardised their distribution opportunities and consumer engagement with the release of damaging products or questionable marketing choices. What might have been left artistic interpretation ten years prior, the fall out of cultural insensitivity may well cause a brand to be 'cancelled' in today's political climate. Generation Z as the next powerful consumer base are laying the politically correct path for brands and businesses alike to follow, ensuring that this social issue impacts the way that companies choose to market themselves in an attempt to prevent being branded by Generation Z a socially boycotted.