Fashion is a Dirty Word

19 Jun , 2014 Fashion

Fashion is a Dirty Word

I have contemplated whether to do this VLOG style or B-LOG style..

And since I’m in the spirit of writing, I thought I’d try to type as fast as possible.

What the fuck is fashion these days?

I question that. I try to understand that. I try to make some sense out of it.

As some of you may know, recently I have been looking for a new job and I thought why not try to get back into the fashion world and apply for some entry level jobs. Umm.. so wrong. One, I didn’t even get looked at all and two, I did have an interview and that’s when the reality hit. It was not an entry level job but the pay was pretty much close to an entry level job for any other industries.

That’s when it hit me. Why are buyers and product developers paid less than let’s say an graduate accountant?

People might argue that an accountant has more control of the financials and MONEY side of the business. What I don’t get is, without someone getting the product for the business to sell, what the fuck money would you be monitoring. I don’t get it. It almost seems like all the small potatoes in the fashion industry get paid less than nothing and you will have one or two elite, experienced few who get paid heaps. Everyone else who does the dirty work get paid less than nothing. I don’t get it.

I flicked back at one employment contract that I received when I first graduated from Uni. The hourly rate was, get this, $15 an hour. What the fuck. I got paid more working in retail than as a production assistance. To make it worse, the next job I worked at the annual salary was $24k. WHAT THE FUCK. 

I didn’t survive very long. I didn’t survive because I lost passion. I lost the starry-eyed-ness and that “dream” to be the stylist who would travel back and forth between Paris, Milan, New York and so forth. Once I saw that the industry was not as glamorous as I thought, I fucked off. I leaped and soared into the world of counselling, which was really a place, space and time to allow me to lick my wounds of a broken heart that what I thought was my dream, was then shattered into pieces.

So on this day at the interview, at a large company mind you, I met a few people. Some were right at it. Some were “Yes” people. Some still had that “passion” that kind of seemed like “desperation” for a job. I don’t blame them, at $35k a year from that last few jobs, this job would’ve sound like jackpot at $45k.

I was astounded. The HR was so fucken upfront about the salary and the expectation – “You will be at this salary for 1 to 2 years. No promotion. No moving up.”

He was even very open about moving to a different organisation, “Yup, very happy for you to go somewhere else and then come back in the future if you’d like.”

I appreciated his honesty, of course. He really gave me an open and transparent vision of what my life would look like if I had the job. (And no I didn’t get the job).

What really interest me after some thought is, who exactly are they looking for? The job was basically administration, basically doing all the shitty work that the buyer didn’t want to do. Long hours, “This job is not about hours, you can come in at 8.30AM and stay til 8.30PM”. And you strive for at least 6, 7, 8 years for what? You may still not be able to get promoted because there’s at least 20 other people in your organisation who want those 6 to 7 positions where those people don’t even want to move. As the HR guy said, “They usually stay for a long time and don’t leave”.

WOW. Who exactly would be wanting to work in this job then? New fashion graduates, buying graduates, retail people whom have been in retail for ages and want to move up, fashionistas who want to become buyers, design graduates and so forth.. but with one thing in common. They still have that dream to make it. That “passion” to make it big.

And I’m not in any way dissing these people. Not at all. Good on them for still having that dream.

What I don’t like is that it’s a sham. It’s a sham for creating the illusion that Fashion is glamorous.

Fashion is a dirty world. What I don’t like about Australia is that they don’t have a culture of nurturing designers. Some do. Most don’t. Most are made up of product developers because their “highly educated” bosses would much prefer to model what other people have done. What other larger organisations have done.

Okay. So now these larger organisations have moved to Australia, so is a buying trip just down the road around Emporium or Bourke Street?

The other thing is that Australia is made up of “Indie” designers – designers who had a passion, some were lucky enough to pair up with someone who knew how to run a business and bam – created a label. What we don’t have in Australia is luxury lifestyle brands like what America has.

Realistically, why did you buy that Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Coach.. bag? Because it was designed well or because it was branded.

Why was the Ralph Laurent polo so special that for a while in fashion history it was SOO popular?

It’s brand.

It’s not design.

Most of us in the real world can’t afford a Chanel Couture dress. Most of us can’t afford a Christian Dior Couture dress. So how can we enjoy the luxury lifestyle like these brands can offer – we buy the accessories. We buy the perfume or cologne. We buy the cheaper ended stuff.

I won’t like, I bought a CDG Play t-shirt because I cannot afford to purchase my favourite Comme Des Garcon jacket.

Why doesn’t Australia has this?

I think Country Road was probably very close to it with the Country Road canvas bag that every teen had in the 90’s, early 00’s.

What makes me sad is.. I stopped subscribing to RagTrader, a fashion industry magazine, for a few years.. fuck ok.. for 8 years. Recently, I got back into it and fuck.

Colette Dinnigan closed her doors

Lisa Ho is in liquidation

And other brands are no more. What the heck. So sad. So bleek.

And here’s another shit things. All these big beloved designer labels (note, Dinnigan and Ho are designers not brands) are gone and each month there’s a new bunch of designers again. What the fuck, it’s like a fucken production line. Out with the old. In with the new.

Australia Fashion will never be sustainable unless designers start building brands. Why did Colette Dinnigan close her doors? Apparently because she wanted to spend more time with her family and her life. But why does Christian Dior still have collections each season and the guy’s been dead for ages? Why is Chanel run by a dude named Karl Lagerfield and not by Coco Chanel herself. She’s dead, don’t think she’d be up for it.

So why couldn’t someone else be the designer for Colette Dinnigan?

Because the market doesn’t want a Colette Dinnigan dress, they want a dress designed by Colette Dinnigan.

And that’s the reason why Australia Designs won’t be a sustainable concept until designer labels become brands.

That is also not going to happen if large organisations continue to say fuck you to designers, “Fuck your creativity. Fuck your talent. You shut up and ‘develop’ these tops from Top Shop and I’ll give you less than anyone else in this organisation because you are only just copying this shit, not actually designing anything”.

Maybe it’s my ignorance. Maybe I don’t know shit because I haven’t worked in the fashion industry for a long time. From my point of view, I can’t think of ONE Luxury Australian Brand. I can think of awesome designers like Toni Maticevski, Colette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa and lots of other Designer Labels but what is an Australian Luxury Brand.

The Australia market should be fostering designers. Australia CONSUMERS should be fostering designers. Australian CONSUMERS should know what is a well designed piece instead of chase after cheap imitations of a style that we can’t afford because it’s on the runways at Paris, Milan, New York. That way, hopefully, designer labels won’t be so expensive because no one buys it, people buy designers because every label, every house brand, every department store sells clothing that has been designed. A world where people don’t just change their wardrobe as quickly as they change their idols. An Australia, where we have our own Fashion market that separates us from the others.

Otherwise, I foresee that Ragtrader for the next few years will consistently be showing me which one of my favourite designers is saying see ya later to the Australia Fashion Industry.

That’s my rant. Come get me haters.

Karen

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