While members of the fashion industry descend on New York for the start of Fashion Month, the real buzz is percolating in Europe. In a bombshell new book titled The Most Beautiful Job in the World, Italian anthropologist Giulia Mensitieri exposed the underbelly of the French fashion world—an industry, it seems, that operates on intimidation and exploitation. In her book, which is not yet available in English, Mensitieri details the woes of the business’ creative workers, including a well-known stylist who is paid in luxury boutique vouchers instead of actual money, and cannot afford rent. Sitting down with The Guardian, Mensitieri shared how working in this €15 billion industry is “hyper socially validating,” resulting in a prevailing attitude that even the most accomplished workers are “lucky to be there at all.” It should not be ignored, either, that many of the interviewees were women, begging the question as to why, in one of the few industries where women outnumber men, such behavior is permitted, let alone so pervasive.
For Further Reading:
If the French fashion industry has problems, the U.S. side has a fair share of its own. Read this eye-opening piece from The Cut about what it’s really like to be black and work in fashion.
What do you think about the French fashion industry’s habit of not paying workers, but demanding excellence? Over the past few years, the global fashion industry has implemented more stringent regulations regarding model age, size, etc. Do you think similar policies should be enacted to protect France’s fashion workers?
It’s important to remember that just because Mensitieri’s book focuses on France, the issue is a global one at heart. Instead of heading to fast fashion or luxury retailers, do some research and spend your money on brands that are not only 100% transparent about how their clothes are made, but also promote a healthy company culture.