BY AMARA HOWE
London Metropolitan Journalists question renowned fashion experts.
Is fashion unfair? Well, DUH. As if anyone actually thought the fashion industry was a place of rainbows, smiles and happiness.
The somewhat rhetorical question was examined as part of an event organised by the Journalism team from London Metropolitan University at their campus in Holloway. Joined by a charismatic line up of panellists including fashion designer Daniel Lismore, fashion journalist Julia Robson, designer and manufacturer Barry Laden, model and big-brother contestant Markus Roberts-Clarke and fashion stylist Denise Brown, the evening gave an insight into the fierce world that is the fashion industry.
Gill Wood, senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University, who hosted the event, began the talk stating: “consciously, or unconsciously we are all participants in fashion.” With questions exploring major issues concerning the fashion industry, the panellists had a lot on their plate within the two-hour event. From unpaid fashion interns to the ever-present underweight models, each guest had their say on the industries secrets.
Laden, creator of The Laden Showroom, the UK’s largest independent showroom, had a lot to say on the hyper-capitalist business that is the fashion industry. After one journalist student asked him about large businesses working with smaller businesses he claimed: “It’s a cruel, hard world. I need you to deal with the facts, it’s a cold hard, nasty world. It’s hard to be creative and new and be noticed by these brands and not be plagiarised.”
With the rise of independent artists work being plagiarised by big brands including Urban Outfitters, Zara and Topshop, it’s no surprise the students, many of whom are freelancers themselves, wanted an answer.
Many questions put forward by students enabled a much wider discussion. One student asked Roberts-Clarke about the gender pay gap in modelling, where it is one of the very few industries where men get paid less than women. Perhaps it was his sexuality but he responded nonchalantly which led to a discussion to the lack of diversity in models.
Robson, who has written for major publications said: “It has a lot to do with the old system of conde naste and vogue.” However, she agreed the industry is slowly but surely becoming a lot more diverse… “we’re seeing more woman of colour, I don’t see why it has to take so long.”
Roberts-Clarke, who’s distinct flamboyant look gets him various bookings said he had often been turned down for castings based on his weight. His skinny look, which is often popular for high fashion brands had often been turned down by brands who were after a more muscular look. Considering casting agents rarely advertise for what they’re actuallu looking for Roberts-Clarke said: “Why don’t you put that on your casting – that you only want meat.”
Lismore was in utter agreement with the unfairness of the industry. “It’s a mad industry. I think the change is coming – it’s so backwards. It’s not a nice place to be – most of them are backwards.”
Many students were eager to question fashion stylist and designer Denise Brown on unpaid internships. Brown, who had employed several Metropolitan students (including me), paid travel and lunch expenses and made that very clear when questioned by the students. Brown, who has had an incredible journey into the world of fashion said: “I promised myself I would be in the fashion industry.” She said working hard is necessary despite not getting paid. “I had to intern. I interned for a year unpaid.”
Robson, who was unhappy with the fact that many employers still don’t pay interns was in agreement that you have to intern despite this. She said: “fashion always relies on interns.”
Leanne London, 29, a freelance journalist and student at London Metropolitan said: “Do I think fashion is unfair? Yes. Unfair that I can’t afford to buy all the amazing clothes and shoes I want! But on a serious note I definitely agree it’s unfair that fast fashion happens. People working in sweatshops so we can buy a crappy tshirt for a fiver.”
The discussion ended with a catwalk show put together by the first year CASS students titled Project Red.
The debate ended with an agreement by both students, lecturers and the panellists that fashion was unfair. Despite it’s reputation, it’s an industry which many are eager to get into. Whether it’s the dream to make it big in business or the general love for fashion, it’s a business which will never go out of fashion.
WATCH THE CASS CATWALK HERE:
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