‘More and more young creatives will be handed unpaid internships which in turn will generate Billions of pounds throughout the year for the British fashion industry ‘ – @unpaidunavailable
It’s officially graduation season and with graduation comes the dreaded search for a job. The fashion industry is one of the most competive industries for graduates. However, unlike competitive roles in the corporate industry, where entry positions are high paying. Fashion employers take advantage by making full-time work unpaid.
Not studying a fashion related degree and wanting to pursue a career in the industry is daunting. Having completed a History degree, I’ve received multiple rejections. Companies respond with things like ‘we had other candidates who matched the specifics of the role, ’ whilst others do not respond at all. With all these rejections, the main advice I receive is to gain more experience and to intern.
I therefore decided to look up available internships and was shocked at the number of positions that were unpaid. Household names like Vivienne Westwood and Julien MacDonald are advertising unpaid internships for up to six months. Another position I saw was offering £15 a day in expenses for full time work for over 3 months!
Working in London full time with no pay is unrealistic. To make a lot of these internships work, one would need a part time job or have other sources of income. Working full time and juggling other jobs to make ends meet is too much pressure and too heavy a workload for one person. What this really shows is that fashion internships are aimed at the elite. Working full time for free is only possible for those who can afford to. Therefore those who cannot afford to are deterred from even entering the fashion industry.
#Unpaidunavailable is a movement founded by platform We Run this Interns (WRT Interns)
Founded by Debora Tonet, a creative designer who has worked at several brands including Erdem and Fyodor Golan. WRT Interns is a young creative platform which aims to bridge the gap between interns and the fashion industry. The platform hosts insightful talks, workshops and mentoring programs to help new creatives navigate through the fashion industry.
Unpaid Unavailable is a protest against internships started by the platform. After discovering how many fashion companies exploit new creatives, the movement seeks to put an end to unpaid internships. The protest is extremely important because those who are completing unpaid internships help generate billions of pounds throughout the year to the fashion industry and don’t get any of this.
The platform encourages creatives to comment #unpaidunavailable on any exploitive intern ads. Unpaid work breaks down the creative industry. We need to make large companies aware that they cannot create full time unpaid positions.