Pandemic Impact on UPPER-LEVEL Fashion Industry Professionals

Pandemic impact on UPPER-LEVEL fashion industry professionals webinar Friday, November 6th (that’s tomorrow!) at 2pm Eastern. Join us live by registering here…


I was disappointed to hear some of the opinions of the recruiters in the webinar today- in particular, from Todd.
A self described “old school garmento” he went on to express his opinions which epitomized much of what is old, and dated, in the fashion industry.
First is the inability to visualize what a remote- or even what semi-remote- role would look like, and how adopting new technologies can actually increase productivity and communication across departments. Yes- we are PRODUCT people- and we do need to see, touch and collaborate in person. BUT… we also need “Heads Down Time” (ie: no meetings, just deep focused work) and often this can be done remotely part of the time. Tools like Slack, Videochat, and Messenging programs are great way to bridge the disconnect. So no, Todd… your idea of “Butts In Seats” is an outdated view, and many younger people (and Gen Xer’s like me) are embracing this as a opportunity to cut down on commute time and instead work in a productive, no water-cooler-chat method.
Another thing that Todd mentioned was that he would never consider representing someone who only stayed at each company for 2 years. Ummm, hello- I don’t know who these people are that are lucky enough to stay at each company for 6-8 years, but every single person I have met in the industry has had something called LIFE happen to them. Companies close, or have a Re-Org. Start ups fail, or get sold. Companies move or downsize. Your own life happens- maybe you move, or have a baby, or God forbid, you decide to take on a new challenge. But mostly, I think people work at a company, learn as much as they can, and then realize- after seeing the way the company operates- that they will most likely never get a promotion or pay increase unless they move on. I spent most of my career in Design… and let me tell you, I’m sure XXXX company would have been happy to keep me on for years as a design asst and pay me my $25,000 salary. But I wanted to do more, and it took moving on to command increasingly higher titles and pay. That’s just the way it works.
In fact, whenever I find someone in DESIGN who has been in the same position for 8, 10, 12 years, it immediately makes me suspicious. It makes me think that perhaps their designs are stale, and that they are a “one-trick pony” who only knows how to work in that one product category, and will regurgitate the same designs for me. Moving companies can get you new ideas, new methods of working, reduce burn out and increase creativity.
In addition, I find these outdated methods of staying years at a company increasingly ridiculous, as so many companies are hiring Temps and freelance roles. You only want to hire people with long loyal stays… but yet you don’t want the commitment of hiring a Full Time tech designer, so you patchwork the role with freelancers? Freelancers can be great… but just know that within many freelancers there is person, needing work, and often they want full time work, but they take freelance roles FOR NOW to pay the bills. I’ve freelanced in downtimes- between jobs- but I always wanted something full time & steady. By freelancing, I’ve been able to pay my rent, stay current in my industry, meet new people-- but it can make my “resume” look patchwork.(And yes, I do weed out these phases on my resume, and eliminate gaps-- but hey, sometimes you have to do what you gotta do).
Other than the advice which we should already know by now-- “Update Your Resume & Portfolio! Tailor your resume and portfolio to the role! Have an online portfolio! Don’t use an AOL email!” I didn’t really hear anything I didn’t already know before. From Todd and Janice, it was a very old school, NY garmento mentality, with a focus on getting back to the old ways of doing business. I was hoping for something a little more visionary; a little more excitement about embracing new ways of working and job hunting. Instead this seminar was much of the same old, same old. I guess in the case of Todd and Janice, sometimes you can’t teach a old dog new tricks. And while I respect their industry expertise, I feel like having them act as recruitment “gatekeepers” is what is keeping this industry stale and unable to adapt to new ways of thinking, as they are funneling out job-seekers who don’t prescribe to their antiquated ideals.
I’d love to hear a webinar about new and potentially exciting new changes that may be coming about due to covid- about how retail might pivot; rise of e-com; start ups and their mentality, etc. This is a whole new world out there- we might as well embrace it!


Hi Grandpb,

I also as a Gen X Fashion Executive didn’t get a lot out of the seminar last Friday. It was very similar to the first seminar which did have helpful info but this one was more of the same, unfortunately.

I don’t think any panel of “experts” have the answers to how things are going to play out. Recruiters can only fill the jobs their clients ask for and those candidates sent need to be a 100% match right now.

I do agree though that this industry still wants butts in seats. I hear it from the companies I interview with. The chances of this changing to remote in fashion is not happening.

And I do agree with the smaller salaries out there and taking a pay cut to rejoin the workforce. I also see that as I have been interviewing.

I wish to everyone reading this the courage to keep applying.


Your response is excellent and completely valid. I am an “old timer” in the industry, and am sick of hearing that because one has moved around after only being in a job for 2 years is a negative. I have 30 plus years as a designer in the industry and have had 30 jobs, at least. Some jobs lasted 2 1/2 years, some jobs lasted a month. And all for the reasons that you mentioned.

I am glad I didn’t waste my time on this particular webinar. There is so much happening to change our industry right now. Virtual fittings, Zoom meetings, and on-demand manufacturing are changing the landscape of the garment business. Yes, it is a tactile industry - I love sourcing fabrics, the touching, the draping, etc. But with most manufacturing happening overseas, most of what designers do now is on-line anyway.

Maybe we have to wait another 6 months through this epidemic before the new reality sets in.


Totally agree with all of your comments!

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I also agree.
I would have liked to have heard much more from the younger recruiter at fourth floor fashion. She seemed to be the most relevant in terms of how the market has changed now. She didn’t get to do very much speaking.
I have been in this industry for 35 years and I have worked 1-3 years MAX in all design jobs I have had throughout my career with exception to when I had my own contemporary line selling at all of the major dept stores for the 8 years I had it.
In one design role after three years, I had a baby and when I came back from maternity leave I was let go along with 250 other people due to a recession. In my next role I stayed 18 months and was let go by the founder of her floundering line who consistently let people go within 1 to 2 years once the honeymoon phase ended. My next role was design director for one year of a line that sold the brand once it became valuable. They then moved me into another division to create a brand new line which I did but the CEO’s unemployed wife came for a visit to LA from Miami where they lived and said it wasn’t “sexy enough “ so I was out of a job. I had started the line for them. I would have stayed years if I could have. In my next position I went to work for a company that was already in bankruptcy and in a hiring freeze as they closed retail stores worldwide. Every month we had a Townhall meeting to discuss the status of the company because people were leaving like crazy. I was let go after eight months by a new person whi was hired 2 weeks earlier who lasted 6 months before being let go. The entire staff was let go six months later due to being sold, and the building was sold. The founder who hired me retired. That one was BEBE, you probably have heard of them. I then went to work for a Chinese private label company at a huge pay cut just so I could work full-time. They had replaced the previous designer who had only been in the job for five months. I lasted nine months. I hadn’t taken a vacation in that time, worked every Saturday they asked each month and did not see it coming.
There is some truth to the idea of people jumping from job to job but the fashion industry is so oversaturated with designers getting pumped out of the schools faster than jobs can be created compounded by older designers still working. The employers know this. Add in, the very definition of what a fashion designer is these days has changed. Are they fashion designers or are they graphic designers, having to not only build all sketches in CAD but design original textile and graphic design prints and logos from scratch, work in 3D illustration, Creative Cloud, and whatever the latest software tools exist even though the companies offer no opportunity to learn on the side to their employees. They’ll just hire $25k kids out of school to do this and have them shadow the older designers with higher pay so they can be replaced at the lower salary and added graphic artist tasks. Last week a 24Seven recruiter contacted me for an apparel design freelance position that required I know ux/ui design. What?! Pretty soon all of the fashion products in stores and online looks identical because they were created by tracing over someone else’s existing products for sale on a competitor website and slapped into PLM and sent off in a techpack to China.


I think that job seekers can overcome the “job hopping” perception by using a resume that focuses on measurable accomplishments; one that builds a return-on-investment analysis for the recruiter. The idea is to present your value to an organization and to prove to them why your high salary is actually a bargain.

-just my two cents. :slight_smile:


I totally agree with you. When the older gentleman that said he wouldn’t even look at a resume if it looked like the candidate is a “job hopper”, well, I thought that statement was out of touch and out of date with this industry. Like you and many of my industry friends, job hopping is not a choice. He and recruiters have to understand that business owners can let you go for whatever reason at any time. This is a very predatory industry without protection/safe guard for employee at any level and aging out is definitely a reality. And unfortunately, it is within the employers legal right. I don’t see this industry and their practices changing anytime soon. Sad for me because this is the only industry I have been in :frowning:
With that said, we all can’t work at famous brands like Chanel and Nike, but I do want to thank Chris Kidd for putting information out there that’s truly relevant/applicable to us, the average apparel people and giving us veterans a platform to discuss idea, gripes and to let it all out! Perhaps the younger set can learn from our adventures!


I agree with the others on here that I didn’t necessairly learn anything “new” but as a community, it’s good to just bring these topics to the surface and keep the conversation going in the industry.

I think it was good having Todd and Janice to speak more about the old-school ways of working, and modifying the conversation to include people in our positions. Christina had some more current things to say, but I preferred Todd’s speaking out of everyone in the webinar since that aligns more with how my bosses and companies I’ve worked with typically handle situations and workloads. I also fully understand the need to physically be in the office to get samples, feel the fabrics, see the colors, make comments, get things prepared, send packages back to the factory, and all the regular work you just can’t do from home. Small companies are thriving because they can hold the whole company together with a few employees, and keep the wheels turning. They just tend to struggle with sales and obtaining clients because they’re small companies. Janice said some things as well that were agreeable, but also predictable, like about the resumes, but if you have 20 years of experience - keep it relevant. Chris knows a lot about the industry, but I felt he was speaking more to the areas of fashion that aren’t specific to designers, such as merchandising and sales. It was relevant, just not for me specifically as a designer/creative role. I was disappointed to hear my fears coming true that we are the people to be cut first in the industry - the people with the most experience and creative fibers within our bodies. I am by no means “old” but on the younger side of this upper-level industry. I’m at the worst possible age to be in this industry trying to hold on to my upper-level status, and to get hired as an upper-level. I need a job right now that will be fair pay, but this webinar just brought to light just the facts that it isn’t possible right now. As an upper-level professional, I’ve been able to have those difficult conversations with many many employers over this period of time after sending my resume out. I’m not picky, but the fact is no employers want to pay my salary right now. So they’re pushing me to the side (although I’ve said I am flexible with pay and will settle for whatever they can give me) but they’re so hesitant to choose me over the kids coming out of school they can haggle with for $15/hour and then throw in some crap telling them to “stay late” where they won’t get paid (we all know that). Yeah I agree with @twirlgirl nobody stays at jobs for a long time anymore. That’s the key shift in this generation we’re in now because that’s the only way we can get higher salaries and getting paid what we deserve. 3 months-2 years for a job is “whatever”, we all are getting fired left and right for whatever reasons. Or quitting. It’s all normalized. I don’t regret quitting a job or regret any the many times I’ve been fired out of the blue. I did my work and it’s all personalities and bad management that’s the core of bad business.

On the other hand, for those who are significantly older than me (mid 40’s and up) you guys are in deep trouble. Way worse off than I will be. That’s what I got out of this. They’ll pick me over you just for having less on my resume and think they can sneak in a deal for themselves by “proving me wrong” when I do their design tests a.k.a. FREE projects. Or if they do pick you, take this as a warning and be cautious because they might be closer in age to you and have a different view of you. Thinking you’re computer illiterate, or “slower” and won’t catch on to things quickly. If it’s too good to be true, it is. If it’s a bad deal, wonder why…what are they trying to cut corners with?

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Hi @grandpoobah was there a recording of this panel discussion? After reading the replies I am curious about the content of the actual discussion.

This. This. This. Infinity times this.

But then again, the only ones who stay at fashion industry jobs more than two years are people in HR. They protect the company, not the employee and are experts at CYA. So of course this is their response. Then they wonder why employee turnover is so high. :roll_eyes: But of course that’s blamed on the hiring manager, not the ones who never actually found a decent pool of candidates in the first place.

Savvy managers know the situation though and have begun to “promote” positions they are recruiting on platforms like LinkedIn. Then qualified candidates can reach out directly to them rather than going through misaligned computer algorithms and out of touch, not a subject matter expert HR.


Totally agree! one recruiter on there, has called me numerous times, and i’ve sent her, repeatedly, work samples, resumes, etc… and she never seems to be able to get it filled, because the same job reappears on style careers. I’ve found more success with the agencies versus the independent recruiters. I am aware they get there business thru relationships, but I often wonder how in touch they are with what’s really happening.


@cmddesigns You can find the first panel discussion here:

…and the drill-down session here:

I didn’t attend this webinar, but I met this guy Todd ages ago. At the time I was considering leaving the company that I had worked for for many years (at the time I had 20+ years experience as a patternmaker). He basically told me that I was unemployable. I thought he was really rude and gave old-time garmentos a bad name. I got a job offer a couple of weeks later- through networking- for better $ with a larger and more recognizable company than my previous job. I suspect that Todd felt insecure because the salary that I was asking - and my expertise is worth- was more than any of the companies he recruits for would pay. Stayed at that job for 14 years until pandemic closed most of the fashion biz down in NYC. My advice to job-seekers: Learn new technology and Network, Network, Network!