Unpaid Internships: The bane of the industry

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Every young person aspiring to one day have a role in the fashion industry, in one of the endless roles including buying, designing and retail, will at one point in their academic career see themselves turn into a weak, house-elf-esque version of themselves in order to advance under the tutelage of a fashion leader in an internship. They will meekly struggle under piles of Starbucks and scarf samples, in the manner of eternal doormat Anne Hathaway in her role in “The Devil Wears Prada”. It’s bizarre that the dream of most young fashion graduates is to out away their newly learned talents and shiny skills in favour of completing menial tasks for incredibly egotistical, selfish rich people who don’t care about the futures of their young, overly enthusiastic minions.

“It’s bizarre that the dream of most young fashion graduates is to out away their newly learned talents and shiny skills in favour of completing menial tasks for incredibly egotistical, selfish rich people who don’t care about the futures of their young, overly enthusiastic minions”

The worst part about these internships is that they are essentially 3 or so months of glorified slavery, as they are so often unpaid. These large fashion conglomerates seem to think it an honour for innocent young graduates to work horrendous hours at tasks far below their standard of talent, for little to no pay. Fashion houses such as Urban Outfitters are offering these unpaid placements as “valuable work experience”- sorry, but I don’t think I need to slave away for months on end to learn how to make a decent cappuccino or use a photocopier. Please forgive me, fashion industry, for assuming that the endless work we students do in order to gain the necessary qualifications to contribute to your businesses should be shoved aside so that we can be at your beck and call. It was stupid of me to assume that young, qualified people should be paid to complete jobs well below their station.

It may be the fierce and perhaps slightly aggressive egalitarian in me, but I find it most sickening that this common occurrence within the industry perpetuates the unfair advantage of wealthy, well connected young people over those without these useful relationships but often with just as much talent and drive. It is not a question of ability anymore, it is a question of who’s daddy knows the CEO of which company, and who can afford to work unpaid for months whilst living in expensive cities like London or New York. There will be no mobility within the industry until this hierarchy is abolished, and sad though it is, the Anne Hathaway’s of the world will continue to tremble in front of their dictators- sorry, bosses- and those lucky enough to have rich relations will continue to achieve that which others, given the opportunity, could prosper at just as easily.

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