Women in Fashion and Fashion for Women?

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Luxury Industry Neglects Women 

Take the Deloitte “Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2019” report and give a look at the top 50 best luxury companies. Only 3 of them are headed by women: Tory Burch, Miuccia Prada, Ferragamo CEO Micaela Le Divelec. Two of them are founders. The only one recruited is the latter (kudos to Ferragamo!).

Women are often confined in the least powerful roles in fashion: design, communication and HR.

Despite the fact that most part of the offer of the industry is dedicated to women.

In 2015 the New York Times published an article about “In Luxury, the Female Factor”. It mentioned several women promoted CEO like Isabelle Guichot, Liza Montague, Patricia Barbizet, Sarah Crook.

It said “Female chief executives also have historically been few and far between, despite a recent spate of high-profile appointments.

But there are signs that this is one industry-defining trend that may no longer be in vogue.”

Those who were mentioned have been rapidly replaced by men.

Recently Barbara Calò was promoted at Marni replacing the CEO Stefano Biondo, but she just scored a less powerful job title of Managing Director.

Luxury Brands work on Stereotyped Women

Recently Mary Fellowes, celebrities stylist of Olivia Colman and Scarlett Johansson, said to the Daily Mail online that the fashion industry ignores middle-aged women.

‘They are its biggest users, women with something to say for themselves, with money to spend,’ she cries. But so much of the industry still seems to be designed for tall, thin young women.”

“‘Grown-up women aren’t interested in logos and street sportswear, but the big luxury brands are putting all that out there, for the customers who aspire to be the likes of the Kardashians and the Hadids, who don’t represent their customers at all”.

It’s a pity that such a relevant part of the industry customers are neglected.

And it’s a shame that women do not have space and voice in the sancta sanctorum of the brands.

In its article “When Women are On Board, Men are less Overconfident”, the Harvard Business Review points out that:

“One benefit of having female directors on the board is a greater diversity of viewpoints, which is purported to improve the quality of board deliberations, especially when complex issues are involved, because different perspectives can increase the amount of information available.

At the same time, research has found that female directors tend to be less conformist and more likely to express their independent views than male directors because they do not belong to old-boy networks.

So a board with female directors might be more likely to challenge the CEO and push him to consider a wider range of options, as well as pros and cons, when making strategic firm decisions.

This could then attenuate CEO overconfidence and correct for potentially biased beliefs.”

So, will Women Save Fashion?

Very likely they started a new silent trend: niche brands, excellence, style, elegance and the cool factor.

Brands like The Row, Gabriela Hearst and the upcoming Phoebe Philo project are taking women on a different road compared to the tacky and flashy styles of most of the brands.

It was called timeless elegance once. Now it’s the come back in style.