One movie that made everyone who works in fashion use words like ‘hell ya’ and ‘the struggle is real’ was Devil Wears Prada. It came straight out of the industry to give everyone some interesting insights and boy, was it on point. When you are in the industry, you hear a lot of stories from colleagues or you become a story-to-tell yourself. As someone who has been a part of it, I assure you that these horror stories, when compiled, can be labelled as endless drama. Don’t get me wrong though, not everyone will have Devil Wears Prada moments, not everyone gets asked for an untimely coffee or are thrown things at, not all magazines and designers are that inhumane but some are, especially, for interns working in full-time positions, it’s not unheard of or unusual.
While working long hours at night is natural for most people who are already a part of the fashion industry, expecting interns to work till 3 a.m. and then be on set by 8 a.m. is not a comfortable choice. In Devil Wears Prada when Miranda Priestly asks her assistant, Andy Sachs, to get her hands on J.K. Rowling’s unpublished manuscripts of Harry Potter for her children to read because “they want to know what happens next,” it sounds unfair to many.
An anonymous Instagram account @fashionassistants is posting true stories from former fashion assistants and interns, which range from having Christian Louboutin stilettos thrown at them to being called fat, and even being banned from eating. The account started as a meme account in December 2017. It has just about 6,500 followers. However, it’s followed by many fashion editors, stylists, creative directors and PR executives. Hopefully, all tales on the account are true and not fabricated to gather followers.
I have heard stories about stylists blaming the loss of expensive products on interns during the shoot. I, myself, at one of my jobs, was being frowned upon because I chose to finish my work first and hence, ended up having food when my senior entered the office (which was at 4 p.m.,) and she, "didn't like the sight."
The purpose of the account as reported by Refinary29 is to start a discussion about how everyone can “work together to unionise have arisen, or how we can set up a platform where agencies can help with problems, abuse, late payments, etc.” Until now, models had spoken about their bad experiences including sexual harassment and abuse under hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse started by model and activist Cameron Russell. It got many well-known photographers and stylists including Terry Richardson, Patrick Demarchelier and Karl Templer under fire. ‘Fashion Assistants’ is allowing people to speak up against the unacceptable behaviour in the industry. It's basically, a Time's Up platform for fashion.
On the positive end, fashion and media industry is big and well-spread and only a few fishes in the see are a cause for concern. While there are people who would try to push you down and will abuse their power, there are also many more people who are kind, encouraging and creative. The ones who are not insecure and will always push you forward will give you opportunities. The layer of inhumane behaviour in fashion will soon be peeled off, leaving more room for creativity to enter. There’s no reason for the nasty to stay.