Salary/Diversity/NY Fashion

is it just me but what planet are fashion employers and fashion recruiters living in? maybe this is just a rant but there has to be a change in the industry-from salary ranges, inclusivity, diversity in the NY metro area Fashion industry.

I’ve been casually searching for an NYC role, note I am not living in NYC and all recruiters do not line it when I say that I am not in NYC and immediately disqualify or consider me for any roles. I feel like that is very discriminatory and not inclusive.

Salary reviews in NYC-they are unbelievably low, what planet are these people living in and how dare these companies even post jobs low salaries at a manager level asking for 70k salary? who is applying these low paying jobs? enough is enough
Solomon Page Careers I see that this is like an entry ish job post but still man, companies like under armor, nike, lululemon, the north face, converse and adidas pay 125k and up for a product development manager. Google and Microsoft pay $120 for a project manger, and now that they are in the accessories sector those roles go for 135k

Don’t even get me started on diversity-the lack of POC in high level jobs all over.


I don’t live in NYC, but from my understanding, most companies there are back in the office fulltime (many are in the LA area too)… so I do understand that most recruiters don’t want to send you to a NYC company unless you’re already living there, and ready to hit the ground running… Most companies do NOT provide relocation packages, and I think a number of people who say they are going to move for the job end up flaking out. (I’ve actually had that happen in LA… I’ve extended offers to NY based candidates who end up rejecting the offer letter just days before their start date, or just not show up at all.) Unfortunately, this happens a lot more often than we think, and probably those flakes ruin it for the rest of us, who really would move/rent an apartment/pack up all their stuff for a job.

As for everything else-- AGREED. I don’t know people do it in NYC… what, pack 6 people into a 2 bedroom apartment and sleep in shifts? With rents getting higher and higher, and salaries not keeping up, it’s increasingly harder to imagine working in the apparel industry there. For every Senior well paying director+ job, there’s hundreds of low paying assistant/developer/tech/associate/designer roles, people getting paid in buttons and struggling to get by. And all those agencies who are placing people in these jobs are skimming 10-20% off the top of the salary budget for placement fees. Not that the situation is much better in the rest of country, but it seems like only the BIG guys (the amazons, nikes, lululemons, etc) are the only ones who even have good budgets anymore, and the smaller companies just pay pennies. Times are TOUGH.


I loved the comment “getting paid in buttons”- that sums up what has happened in NY in the last few years, salaries were in a race to the bottom, and it had started before Covid but that just gave companies an excuse to lowball compensation even more. Bigger companies do tend to have bigger budgets, but there are also the “small but mighty” companies that may have less media recognition, a lot of private label and licensed label manufacturers who you’ve never heard of but do big dollars of business and are able to compensate their teams well. Things have started to level off though, and companies are hiring again, but yes, most of us who have “hands-on-product” are back in the office 4 to 5 days a week. It would be hard for a recruiter to place someone who doesn’t live in NY in an entry level to mid-level job because it is very expensive to live here unless your housing situation is already established, you are willing to live in an outer borough where it’s cheaper, or you are not the main breadwinner for your family. It also has a lot to do with how the industry has changed over the last 30 years, from a time when there was a lot of local manufacturing, people had serious practical skills and grown men supported families with blue-collar garment center jobs. Almost all those jobs went to other countries, mainly in the Far East. Now it is a pink-collar ghetto where it is more about doing a nice drawing in Illustrator and managing data in a PLM program than it is about knowing how to actually make patterns or drape fabric, or how to cost those intricate pockets for production. I can’t really say that I have seen a lack of diversity because NY is one of the most diverse places on the planet (all 192 recognized languages spoken here) and most of my career I have been in the minority as the caucasian person where I have worked. But diversity is a big initiative these days, so if you think there are roadblocks where you have been applying, then you should try getting in to different companies than the ones that aren’t giving you the time of day and excel at something that will make you stand way above the crowd.


Excellent answer.
Ive lived in nyc for 25 yrs.
My best salary was in 2016 and 2017, making 140k.
Then came 3 layoffs, 1 company shutdown and the pandemic.
Finally found a job paying 110k.
Both entry-level assistants I’ve worked with have had commutes just over an hour.

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Thanks. I’ve lived in NYC & worked in the garment industry for 40 years, and pretty much seen it all & how it has changed. Up until Covid hit I had what I considered one of the best jobs in the business. Then came shutdowns and company “restructuring”. So I freelanced until a few months ago when I got a full time job again paying in the 110K range too. I know I am one of the lucky ones to get a decent salary but I also have skills that they don’t teach in FIT anymore and you really only learn at someone’s elbow. Good luck in your new job!


Agree with TwirlGirl and Patterntech: as NYC companies have an abundant pool of workers to choose from, they will not pay relocation fees. As for salaries, just don’t work for less than what you are worth. Unless you are desperate. I am also a 40 year veteran of the NY fashion industry and in my experience in design, there is very little diversity, especially considering our fellow Black designers. Sad. And salaries are super low, compared to other industries.


This has been my exact experience and why I don’t work for a brand in NYC. I see amazing jobs posted all the time, but when recruiters see I’m not already in New York they never respond or the few that do offer laughably low salaries. I don’t get it.

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NYC may be a very diverse city, yes but, the way some of these companies hire, shows otherwise…and don’t come at me with “there aren’t a lot of POC in the industry that are qualified”…I can send you at LEAST 100!

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I guess to clarify on diversity-

I meant POC in leadership roles-like randomly Look at Ralph Lauren’s leadership, Tommy, Donna K, Coach, J.crew, Theory, Anne Klein, PVH, Tory Burch etc.

regarding having local talent-that motto doesn’t apply to all the techs that live in in SF-they are a dime a dozen and they do get paid, entry at 120k. I know SF is expensive but compared to NY…there is a disconnect.

I wonder if so many of us see this, feel this, what would be a good way to make out voices heard. Similar to how Game Stop movement went against the odds :slight_smile: