A two month long trial shift: fashion fails again

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…we get this in the mail. Our correspondent included two tweets as screen shots, we are posting them because they asked us to. 

I have recently been unfairly dismissed from the owner of a design house because I told them they were being unrealistic with the volume of garments demanded to be produced per day… 

I started a ‘trial month’ that soon turned into a two month trial the day I started and later found that other graduates on trial had been there for three months or more.

I relocated because it was a requirement. I was told I had to work full time and was given no funding whatsoever. I was expected to pay for rent, bills, food and travel myself.

After the first few days it soon became apparent that there was only one full time paid member of staff. The rest were interns. I also met the owner of the company (for the first time) after 5 full days of work.

I was expected to work a minimum of 10 hours a day. We were never told what time to we would be allowed to leave in the evening until the last minute.

I was put on the production line immediately. With no training whatsoever I was making garments to be sold for profit.

Feeling concerned about the businesses set up (majority unpaid interns, looked like there were no job prospects despite being invited for a ‘trial period’) I broke down, told the design assistant that I had concerns. She asked the owner to speak to me. She saw that I had been crying… laughed at me and asked what was wrong. She then went on to say that she didn’t have time to see how everyone was feeling, she was always too busy. “I’m a cold heartless bitch, that’s just the way I am” As if I was just supposed to accept that and move on….

I decided to stick it out and hope things would get better…


They didn’t.

Last week, at the end of my third week working for the company I was asked to fill out a timetable that had been put on the wall for each intern. I explained that once I had made a certain style of dress I would know how many I could make in a day. Her response was “It’s not about how many you want to make in a day, it’s how many you HAVE to make. If you have 50 dresses to make in a day you have to make 50” I then explained that she was being unrealistic in her expectations and that it only made sense for me to put down as many as I could feasibly make in a day. She then went on to say “don’t argue with me I’ve been working in this industry for years” I started to walk away after saying that I couldn’t talk to her about this as she was being unreasonable. She then shouted at me “get your stuff together and leave, go home”

I was given no appreciation for the work I had completed. She didn’t care who I was, I was just a number. Free labour.

To add insult to injury she later put this on twitter…


Seeing this was heart wrenching. I felt embarrassed and stupid. Having such a bad experience in an industry that I had previously felt so passionately about has almost put me off entirely. The worse thing is that evidently this happened before hence ‘another intern has been asked to leave’ yet most are too ashamed to tell anyone. I’m furious. Having met so many talented interns at this placement I am concerned that their hopes and dreams will be shattered too. 


7 Responses to “A two month long trial shift: fashion fails again”

  1. 1 Bridget Graham 10/01/2012 at 2:50 pm

    This was not an internship at all. It was a manufacturing job and as such, the person concerned should have been employed, trialled and if he/she was not going to be able to produce the 50 garments a week after supervision, then he/she should be let go. Learn to distinguish an internship from exploitation at the outset and steer clear. And if your ’employer’ is expecting your parents to fund you, then you and your parents should have some indication of what you are going to get out of the internship in writing from the ’employer’. Do not collude with exploitative employers. OK, you made a mistake and let yourself be misled by the boss; steer clear from others like her, and when you have your own company, invest in paid training for staff. (Has the word ‘training’ disappeared from the business vocabulary?)

  2. 2 Sarah Todd 10/01/2012 at 10:25 pm

    I feel for this girl/guy so much, to have her/his dreams shattered by such a witch. Theres a difference between work and slave labour. I hope they can pick themselves up and gain the success they deserve

  3. 3 ghada 10/01/2012 at 11:03 pm

    it is a shame that lucy, had felt that the work was too hard for her, and unreasonable, she had applied for a designer position in a company which manufactures garments from RECYCLED material, AND she joined at the hight of collection time, not only for london, paris, but also the limited shop in japan. lucy was told that this in advance and that during the period of sep – october it is late nights ( this is the fashion industry!) we do what we have to to to get the collection completed.
    further more, no nobody forced lucy to stay or take this trail period, ( incfact she was good designer) but did not want to pull her weight like everyone else.
    lastly, we have at least four ”paid” designers in REEM studio…not one..and yes we have inters..and very good ones too. who are well appreciated and treated with respect, same way we treat reem with respect.

    • 4 Bridget Graham 10/02/2012 at 10:17 am

      Goodness – four staff who are actually PAID. How many of your staff were not paid? If you really respect your staff, you pay them. Respect doesn’t pay bills. No one should expect to have their organisation funded by others’ savings or their parents’ money. Pay staff during training; that way you get their respect too and probably don’t have the disruption of staff churn.

  4. 5 cc 10/02/2012 at 12:03 am

    As a recent graduate in Fashion Technology who has completed work experience with leading companies that have treated me well, encouraging me and helping me to learn and grow it is sad to see that other companies in the industry are exploiting young, learners in this way. In such a difficult industry I believe that companies should treat interns with respect and help them to grow not just in their skill set but also in their self confidence after all upon graduation these people will become the future of the industry, possibly even employees of these companies.

    I personally feel that whoever wrote the last comment in defence of REEM has done nothing but highlight even more what an awful company they must be to work for. As an employer you should be mature and dignified, not slag a former worker as someone who “did not want to pull their weight”. Seriously, this person worked and lived in London for FREE (not exactly cheap) so that you’re company could operate and most likely generate a healthy profit, which I suspect you as an individual benefit from. Its disgusting to see that enthusiastic and creative people are being forced to work in such horrible environments just to get a foot on the ladder in the industry. I’m extremely glad that for me this was not the case. I applaud the intern for standing up for themselves and giving the placement a chance.

  5. 6 Kit Friend (@kitfriend) 10/04/2012 at 11:10 am

    Sounds like straightforward infringement of National Minimum Wage – I hope they’ll be claiming against the employer?

  6. 7 Joan 11/26/2012 at 4:41 pm

    Interesting article. It is quite unfortunate that over the last years, the travel industry has already been able to
    to deal with terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, influenza, swine flu, as well as
    first ever true global tough economy. Through all this the industry has really proven to be robust, resilient and also dynamic, locating new ways to deal with
    misfortune. There are generally fresh challenges and opportunity to which
    the sector must just as before adapt and respond.

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