Hi, Sad to say I worked for a good apparel company, 130 stores nationwide. I was laid off due to Covid but also had the unfortunate experience of working for a designer who should have not been promoted to manager. There were five of us who went to HR to complain, she had created a hostile work environment due to her own personal issues, and was scheduled for a 360 review in March. She cost the company a lot of money; spending months training new designers and losing them to other companies after a year, antiquated tech pack processes, printing colorplates instead of using pantone, refusing to update processes, too many strike offs, too many designs that were dropped because she didn’t follow requests from merchandising, etc. I have heard this story from several colleaques in different companies this month. There seems to be a trend in the industry to ignore bad moral caused by poor managers. It’s very unfortunate because it ultimately costs employers in net profits more than they realize with poor quality, low productivity and high turnover.
Sounds a lot like the stories you’d hear about pre-bankruptcy BCBG.
Yes. This is a heritage apparel company, the founders sold the company a few years back and there is no longer any connection to their initial motto. (‘culture of kindness’). they were aggressively adding stores to create value - possibly to sell it again. It was my first experience working for someone that was so unfit to manage a team. It’s sad, though, because when a company folds, we lose jobs in the industry.
I have always worked for wholesale companies but I’ve seen a lot of similar situations. Many designers want to hire inexperienced people to make themselves more important and if there are experienced people, the managers keep them down, belittle their work and try to keep them out of the spotlight. I think it is common for designers to feel threatened by other designers. I always tried to hire people that would be most effective, make my position easier and always also tried to make sure that the company knew about the contributions of others.
I’m with you, I have always brought in strong talented designers and supported them. It benefits the company and creates a strong team. However, that is because when I started, I was fortunate to work for a good manager and great designer. The trend is for companies to have senior designers mentor interns/junior designers and the fire the senior talent and keep the junior (lower paid) designers. That has contributed to the erosion of creative collaboration and rise of poor managers.
This is exactly the case with why BCBG just declared for a 2nd time. The CEO/President of the brand was clueless in regards to how to run a company, frequently taking her frustrations out on her people at any hour of the day. How she was instilled in this position by the larger parent company is beyond comprehension. She exhibited a complete lack of empathy, communication and foresight that literally brought the licensed brand to its’ knees. Alas, she will survive and continue to run the small, insignificant denim brand that is also part of the overall portfolio.
I was at BCBG years ago for a very brief time. My manager had no business being in her position and now she’s the National Sales Manager over the entire brand. The company drew in very talented people, but unfortunately they couldn’t keep them due to the poor leaders steering the ship.
I completely agree with you that there is a trend in bad morale. There is not a single fashion company I have worked for that has had adequate management… and even with my own personal experience of having to resort to HR - it is rare that HR even takes action. This industry is remarkably toxic and it’s going to take more than a prayer to fix this broken system of hostility and discrimination.
It’s extremely unfortunate as this is how companies lose great employees and some of them just don’t care. I work under a EVP who makes things that are not a priority a priority; and whenever you want an upper manager’s help in something (to help push a deadline or get an answer), he won’t help because he doesn’t want to be bothered. That is until 3 months down the line when you’ve tried to do everything you can and now it’s an urgent matter. My boss does absolutely nothing and causes more unnecessary chaos and yet makes way more than anyone should! I’ve only had one great boss in my life besides my internships. I started out in the industry with great teams. Sometimes I wish I had it in reverse so I would have been more prepared for when the time came for me to have a bad boss haha.
Every company i’ve worked for has had ridiculously toxic management. Turnover is expected, managers will hire low experience designers to save money and get angry when mistakes happen, and I could go OFF on my experiences (was offered thousands of dollars by the director to snitch on my coworkers, and when I declined I was tossed out. A guy in sales told me i’d be sexier if I lost weight. The list goes on.)
Bad managers support bad managers and any employee who complains is just a snowflake who can’t handle it. It’s infuriating.
I have heard for at least a decade tha BCBG has a bad rep!
I heard that BCBG, the original version, was a talent meat grinder.
HR hasn’t been representing the wellbeing of the employees for a long time. Any conversation regarding complaints about managers only lead to toxic retribution from that manager themselves.
yes heard that too…they would squeeze designers like lemon and toss them!
I had an interview there a long time ago and I could tell the woman doing the interview was younger and less experienced than and barely looked at my portfolio. I think she felt threaten by my skills and turned me down very quickly. Looking back, it was a blessing that I didn’t work there!
Agreed! I feel fortunate to have had some great mentors and bosses and it has molded the way I run a team. Empower, train, mentor, and listen. Being a leader is a completely separate skill set that requires study and time just like designing, tech, cad ext.
I can only speak from the design side, but in my experience, there is quite often little to no actual management training as designers progress into Senior Designers and then again up to Creative Directors and VPs. They go into management positions knowing how to meet personal design/production deadlines, but with little knowledge of how to lead a team of people with varying strengths, or how to project a plan that not only advances the design side of the brand, but feeds into the company’s larger game plan. The result is poor decision making, an antagonistic relationship with other departments, and a ‘shit rolls down hill’ style of management. Rather than protecting their teams, they over work them. Instead of working in tandem with other departments, they jealously guard and promote their own agendas. Instead of encouraging growth and advancement within their teams, they are paranoid and protective of their jobs because they have no confidence in their longevity. And why would they? Upper management invests so little in developing talent, no one feels safe or valued. They seek security where they can – nepotism, cronyism and bullying. Those below them learn by example that is what one needs to do to survive, and the cycle continues.
Brands NEED to invest in proper management training. Give your people the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.
I take this a step further declaring self entitled CEOs (start up) managers who shouldn’t manage. Call me old fashioned, but to become a CEO it use to take decades of time, experience, intellect, ability. Not all CEOs are / were “good” per se but at least they came with some understanding for the job, the work, fortitude? There really should be a criteria, a mandate, much like sexual harassment education in the workplace and EOE as is “management.” I don’t think you have the right to claim CEO before you’ve actually managed any one first, and second, taken conscience time to take some classes on people, humanity, do’s and don’t’s of managing others, etc.
Hi I work in very small company and after being brought back on after 5 months of being furloughed. I was happy but also worried about understanding where the business would be for each of our clients. My first two week back was just filled with me sitting on calls and having to figure out what on earth to ask or follow up with. The person I work under (a director) seems to get frustrated when I send emails or set ups calls. She is extremely passive aggressive. Is it too much to ask for a break down of where the business stands?