Years ago I was a designer at a company in which the owner was having a long time affair with the president of a sister company. Her husband ran our warehouse and took every opportunity to delay shipments, misplace goods, make mistakes and cause trouble galore just to get back at the owner. Needless to say they went out of business, but it was some crazy times and when I remember all the crazy problems they had, it has made it easier to deal with problems of other crazy bosses.
I’ve worked at several companies in which the owners were having affairs, the designers and/or trim, fabric buyers were sleeping with vendors, various degrees of nepotism, and other craziness that I used to think I should turn it into a script. Shorter hours for a lot more money!
YES! I could definitely make a sitcom!
Another company I was with had a affair going on as well and everyone too close to the situation was let go.
The worst one was when the heads of both divisions were having affairs with the boss at the same time and were both vying for his attention. The place was beyond crazy!
That last one is a tough one! Already a business with what I like to call large personalities and vying for attention- talk about a ruthless tennis match! Like the Witches of Eastwick on steroids!
I’ve definitely worked as multiple companies where the (male) big boss(es) were having affairs with lower level employees.
- Big company where we all knew the big boss had a specific racial and body type preference for his multiple affairs (I was very out of the loop with upper level management and I still knew this). Disgusting
- Another big company where my creative director and salesperson went to NY market with everyone for the first time and described how one of the big bosses started making out with a design director in front of everyone. Apparently when they started making out, many members of the sales/design team smiled and laughed and said “we’re so happy to see you back together!” This big boss was actually married to his business partner’s sister… I almost didn’t believe this story but others corroborated it to me.
- I worked with a very young female designer who I looked up to for getting to her level at her age (running a “cool” brand). I really wanted to follow in her footsteps until I found out it was an open secret that she was sleeping with her big boss to get where she was.
Are all companies like this, or fashion in particular because it’s a female-dominated industry where men rise to the c-suite?
16 years ago when I started at this company, the president was sitting at the lunch table with the entire office around him (lunch meetings were mandatory 3 days a week. Actually a great process to get people exchanging business and ideas, except for this story) and he asked each man at the table which female associate he most wanted to sleep with.
I was already in the business 20 years and came from a very buttoned down HR environment and was absolutely floored by the question.
I would love to think it couldn’t happen again but I think it could, perhaps in a different form and less public but we work for essentially small, independently owned companies. The fashion business is made up of hundreds of poorly capitalized individual principalities that usually have one big idea that lasts for awhile. When its run its course, it dissolves into chaos. So the dynamic person at the top, if morally fractured, looks onto the organization with the same values.
Has anyone ever wondered why no one from the fashion industry ever goes into higher profile corporate America? No one is leaving fashion and becoming president of Morgan Stanley. Other than PVH and POLO, I can’t think of any corporations large enough to get on Wall Streets radar, much less raid their management structure for talent.
Senior execs in our industry have outlasted or out-connived their peers to the top. So you have fundamentally poor managers shielding the creative personnel who are the income source. Its still all about the product but we should not expect stories shared on this thread to ever go away until the DNA of the industry changes. And that will snuff out the creative side and then we are all working for General Motors.
Somehow we need to become creative with a conscience for respecting all of our colleagues.
Thanks for sharing. i left all of that to work for an amazing company as a buyer now. i totally agree in many aspects ad sadly, most ppl cannot differentiate.
I would add Nike to that list, and I think PVH gets so much attention because Manny Chirico will never say no to an appearance on MSNBC, but you’re absolutely right. Most fashion brands are appallingly mismanaged, from the top down.
Most of these companies have less than 50 people, especially if you don’t include the warehouses. There is no company handbook or guidelines, sick pay if they feel like it, they just make up rules as they go. Sexual harassment is rampant and so is sexual discrimination.
^^^ SO TRUE.
I have family that have worked for HR/corporate in other industries and when I regale them with my work tales, they almost don’t believe it. The things that I have seen, have been said and done to me… as my family says, “That would be an immediately fireable offense in any other industry.” Girl, tell me something I don’t know…
100%! Our industry has a fiasco in every corner and somehow they get away with it. No rules apply.
I would also like to give a shout out to the people who head up companies and are also drug users (Rx in my experience) or have serious mental breakdowns on the job. This makes for a hostile (screaming at us) or completely frantic all-hours work environment. Good times.
Oh yes, Rain, I had a boss that was most definitely by polar. Not saying this to be mean, he had a serious mental illness. It was very apparent when he didn’t take his meds, which was most of the time.
I found that when I worked with these bosses for too long I had some PTSD to deal with after and had to build up my confidence again. And I only worked there for 1-2 years.
I lasted 10 1/2 years and I definitely have a serious case of PTSD now so I agree. The first 6 months are hopefully the honeymoon phase and then it goes down from there.
Agreed Rain, PTSD is serious. You are 100% right! I worked for a company for 7 years and continually was embarrassed by the VP or sexually harrassed on a daily basis in some form. I ended up suing the company and winning, but I still have after effects now and I have been gone from there for nearly 2 years. I feel like a beaten dog and flinch if I ever feel like I made some sort of tiny error.
It’s terrible to have lasting effects from abuse on a job. Use those effects to protect yourself in the future. Don’t let it happen again. When faced with comments, learn appropriate responses to turn them around immediately.
Such as “I’m sort you feel that way.” “I can have this project ready on ____ if that doesn’t work, which part do you want to cut out?” When someone makes a sexual remark or off color offensive joke, say something like “I think that comment is inappropriate, perhaps you would like to rephrase what you’re trying to say?” You needs to be fast and sharp without cutting but twist everything around and don’t take it!
hahaha yes! so accurate about Manny. what a hot shot celeb
I want to say I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through. And also that you are a strong person for recognizing this PTSD and dealing with it. You are smart and resourceful for finding the people/groups/tools to help. I wish you a continued healing journey!