Ghesquière, Tisci, Saab, Michele. Galliano, Lagerfeld, Gvasalia, Wang.
Question: What do these things all have in common? Each of these men sit at the helm of a top-grossing women’s clothing label. Even the musical reference I just made can be attributed to a man.
In 2016, only three of the world’s top 12 richest fashion brands boasted female creative directors. This is especially remarkable given that womenswear rakes in over $200 billion more of the industry’s income than men’s. Business of Fashion notes that although women account for the majority of those entering the industry, they represented only 40.2 percent of the 371 designers surveyed last fashion month. Even if certain fashion houses were created by women at their time, they write, today they often have creative leaders that are men.
Somewhere in the women’s clothing industry lies an alarming disconnect.
Women may be underrepresented and underpaid in most other fields, but one would think that they could take internal control of the one that is, quite literally, made for them. Yet something continues to keep girl power from coming out on top.
Are the meninists right? Does testosterone truly know estrogen better than estrogen knows itself? After 18 years of immersive research on female life, I can conclude that the answer is no.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s driving the male domination of this seemingly womanly territory. All I know for certain is what is true of every industry: the existence of nuanced inequities among men and their qualified female counterparts. That, coupled with brand-owner groups like Kering and LVMH being male-dominated, could be enough to restrain even the most talented young female designer.
I can’t write this article without acknowledging the handful of of incredible female designers that do exist. They’re scattered across the globe, from Milan to Tokyo to New York City, presenting young women in fashion with a silver lining surrounding the monogamous cloud that has loomed over womenswear from the beginning of time.
“Monster,” the song I referenced earlier, is comprised of three verses. Rick Ross and Jay-Z present the first two, accompanied by Kanye West in the chorus. Things change in the final verse: Nicki Minaj, one of few well-known women in the male-dominated rap world, takes over. She shows listeners who’s boss, dropping bars that must have left Rick, Jay and ‘Ye with their jaws to the floor.
McCartney, Karan, Prada, Philo. Kawakubo, Versace, Sui, Ferretti.
Not unlike Minaj, these female designers embody all that a woman in fashion should. Their poise and creativity produces billions of dollars in revenue for their labels each year — the true embodiment of “think big, get cash, make 'em blink fast.” They consistently leave the industry eager for what the future will hold, inspiring their up-and-coming counterparts along the way.
Beneath the surface of womenswear lies a whole new generation of motherf*cking monsters.