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  • Writer's pictureSakshi Mundada

Women in Fashion

Women & Design // WID Insights

Majorly catering to the female audiences, supposedly seen as the frivolous, one of the biggest industries of them all, is fashion still being run by men?

Fashion is an industry colored by the feminine lens.

Majorly catering to the female audiences, supposedly seen as the frivolous, one of the biggest industries of them all, is fashion still being run by men?

For a young student looking to enter the world of fashion, I was thinking about this question intently. While women might make up the bulk of entry-level positions, is it men who end up climbing to the higher echelons of the decision-making?

Unfortunately, it is the case. Upon graduating, roughly 80 percent of Parsons students, one of the best fashion institutes in the world, are female. Yet, of the 50 major fashion brands, only 14 percent are run by women. For more reasons than one, while fashion institutes consistently churn out young female designers, not enough end up making it to the managerial positions of power. From traditional patriarchal expectations veering women off their trajectories, to blatant gender discrimination, women have to climb a steeper slope on their way up. For an industry that cashes on women and their spending potential, it is a saddening realization that women in the field still have to face as many hindrances as any other line of work. According to the McKinsey ‘ Shattering the glass runway ' report of 2018 nearly 100% of women in fashion see gender equality as an issue whereas only 50% of men do so. This seemingly open and gender-neutral industry still struggles with gender disparity and unfortunately, it is not just at the top.

From the production workers to the artisans, women at the base of the manufacturing pyramid also face similar issues. From disparity amongst wages to limited opportunities to reach higher positions of responsibility, women all along the chain are left behind and treated as an afterthought. Quite an irony, given that almost 85% of the consumer base is composed of women. Be it the factory fire incidences in Lahore and Karachi or cases of hazardous working conditions of Bangladesh, women are seen to be the worst affected groups. It is thus a sorry state of affairs for this industry we call fashion, already grappling with the stamp of being one of the most polluting industries across the globe.

Some companies in the fashion industry have managed to put cracks in the glass.

Multiple women-led, home-grown Indian brands are looking to elevate the industry by taking upon themselves and incorporating practices of zero-waste generation, upcycling, circular creation, and much more. But truly shattering the glass runway will require overcoming multiple sources of gender inequality.

Gender diverse companies are reported to be 22 percent more likely to outperform their peers by the ‘ Delivering through diversity ' McKinsey report of 2018. Thus, a concerted effort to improve gender equality in the fashion industry is both socially and economically imperative. Empowering the women of fashion is the future of this industry in a dire need of institutional reform. By addressing the issues that hold women back, ensuring better opportunities, and open communication channels significant steps can be taken to ensure an equitable stake at the table for the women of fashion.

Following the footsteps of a few forerunners, we as consumers need to be more vigilant. In holding brands accountable for not only their environmental practices but also gender disparities, we can ensure a smoother climb for all those women trying to make through towards a better life.

We're always open to other perspectives, opinions, and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!

With 🧡 Team WID.


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