I’m currently undergoing my placement year within my Fashion degree and I understand what an invaluable experience this year can be. However, during the first three months of this year a few questions have arisen between me and my housemates. Working and gaining experience within the fashion industry is not only a great addition to your CV after graduation but it gives you experience that you could never learn sat in a classroom for three years.
However, it seems that there is a little unfairness on how internships are given and operated. Through trawling the internet I have found that the bigger the designer the less they actually pay. I loved the look of the Stella McCartney PR placement in London, it would last 6months and it entailed various admin tasks as well as taking part in fashion week. However, this placement was totally unpaid, no travel subsidies, maybe lunch and no actual salary, yet Stella herself has a net worth of $75 million. Surely this is the most absurd thing you have ever heard. The student was expected to live, eat and work in one of the most expensive places to live in the country on a lunch pass.
However myself, like many other students I know, come from a normal family, in a working class town who don’t have a money tree to jet off to London for 6months with no wage. Yet does this mean I don’t get a good enough invaluable experience for when I graduate? Surely this is unfair in all respects. Some students I know are in a very fortunate position whereby they are doing 6months in Milan, a year in the Netherlands for Nike or the south of France for a surfing brand so they are obviously going to gain a lot more than the girls I know who are staying in Newcastle for most of the year.
The University don’t help with this situation as we have to fulfil a brief based on culture and street style from where you are living and visiting and however much I love Newcastle its pretty hard to collect two sketchbooks of culture and amazing street style when I’m competing with students travelling the world. This is not a sob story more an exposure of what students have to go through to get into the Fashion Industry and what chances are took away from us before we have even started our careers.
When I visited Gareth Pugh’s interview he stated that if the law were to change, which it seems it might in the future, he would still take on graduates and students for his internship place but he would have to pay a salary. He believed they were invaluable and brought a fresh and new opinion to his work. Yet, the question he asked was ‘Why should he if he can take them for free?’ and from a business point of view I totally understand where he is coming from. As the owner of his brand if he can save money to put into his collection but still have the extra hands and opinions then course he would choose that option.
So the question ever stands do I put myself into £5000-£10,000 more of debt on top of my student loan debt to ensure a fulfilled placement year and ‘invaluable’ experience. Or do I do my best to gain as much experience where I can afford and maybe shoot myself in the foot after I graduate? Only time will tell if the choice I made is correct.