oday you have decided to do some shopping, because why not #treatyourself? Whether it is by stepping into your favorite women’s store in a nearby mall, outlet, or boutique, or deciding to stay in your pajamas and shop online, you get excited to add some new items to your closet. When you see these clothes and try them on with your friends, you feel empowered. You believe these clothes give women confidence, as they strut and show them off.
Yet most of these women’s fashion companies are owned and run by men.
As many women may already know, there has been a lot of discussion about men taking on a lot of executive roles, even in female-driven companies. This is especially apparent in fashion, with women making up more than 70% of the workforce, yet less than 25% of leadership roles. It’s hard when women are designing the clothes for us other women consumers, but men always getting the final say and credit. Wouldn’t it make sense for women to have the final say on women’s clothing?
There were many male designers this spring/summer 2017 fashion week season, and throughout NY, London, Milan, and Paris, there were more male designers for women’s clothing than women for every show, approximately only 40.2% women of the 313 brands and 371 designers, according to BoF.
And how many women fashion companies have male executives? Too many to name, and while we do have some of the great women from France who wanted to design, run, and change women’s fashion forever-Jeanne Lanvin (1889), Coco Chanel (1909), Madeleine Vionnet (1912), Elsa Schiaparelli (1927), Nina Ricci (1932), and Marie-Louise Carven (1945)-there are still many fashion companies that are not run by women. Very often, companies were started by women, but now are run by men.
On the flip side, some of the most popular brands were founded by men, such as Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent, and remain a male-dominated worksphere. According to the Huffington Post, “Of the 92 shows on the Paris Fashion Week womenswear schedule, less than 30 have female creative directors at the helm.”
A lot of companies have also started to hire businessmen instead of businesswomen, such as Frida Giannini, who was removed from Gucci and replaced by protege Alessandro Michele, Adam Andrascik being named creative director at Guy Laroche, and Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud’s Carven takeover”.
Is this only in fashion companies, you may ask? Surprisingly, most fashion magazines and stylists are run by women, and 85% of students enrolled at Fashion Institute of Technology in NY being female. Yet there is something about designing and being the executive of companies that has become a much male-dominated thing. Perhaps it is, in part, due to the fact that the business world remains largely male-dominated.
Some designers believe there is starting to be a change, though–or at least they hope. The appointments of Bouchra Jarrar at Lanvin and Maria Grazia Chiuri at Christian Dior — the first time a female designer has led the storied French brand — are a sign for optimism.
While most designers believe all genders should be able to design for all genders, the main difference and need for change is that women need to start getting recognized when women are designing. It doesn’t make sense for a man to receive credit at awards, fashion shows, galas, and so forth, when the work horse behind it all is composed of hundreds of women. It is hard to believe that while business decisions are being made, accountability lies solely to the men.
While women may have the creative side, men have control over everything else. Some believe this could be due to women always trying to take on many different jobs at once, such as being a wife, mother, and worker. Even Vera Wang admits “I raised two daughters and ran my own company and designed and tried to keep people employed… I didn’t feel like there was a lot of time in my life to squeeze everything in.”
And as time goes on, when the man in the prominent authority role wants to retire, when they decide to hire someone else, they usually pick the man over the woman, a re-occurring and never-ending pattern inherent in many industries.
Some tips? Tory Burch chief executive and designer Christine Lagarde says it isn’t the competence, but confidence that limits women at taking on leadership roles. Once women embrace their confidence through their voice, they will be unstoppable.
Image courtesy of Hit the Floor Magazine