Fewer women CEOs in Fashion than in Aerospace or Finance
That’s a crazy statistic, given that 85% of graduates from top fashion schools are female, and one in six individuals employed by the fashion industry globally identifies as female (Fair Trade Certified).
Only around 14% of the top 50 major fashion brands are run by women (2018). Meanwhile, fashion designers also remain majoritarily men. In 2016, only 40% of designers showed at London, New York, Paris, and Milan fashion weeks were women. This is changing, with leading fashion houses such as Dior and Givenchy appointing their first female designers recently. But it’s still not 50-50.
The importance of gender parity in fashion
Right, I think you get the picture. Just like in many other industries, and even more than in various other industries, gender parity among leaders is lacking, to say the least. But what is particularly concerning about that being the case in fashion is not only that most graduates from fashion schools are female, but also that womenswear makes up more than half of global fashion retail spending (the rest being childrenswear and menswear).
That means that fashion companies are buoyed by female dollars, and yet are still rife with gender inequality at their top levels. It also means that those designing our clothes don’t necessarily have the experienced knowledge of what women want and need. That leads to phenomena such as women’s pockets being 48% shorter than men’s (read about pocket politics here).
Fashion is also key in achieving global gender equality, since a whopping 12.6% of the global workforce work in fashion, many of whom are women.
What we mean by gender parity
At times, gender parity is seen to mean the board of an enterprise, the CEO, or maybe the executive committee. But gender parity is also about female ownership. The money you spend is going (primarily) to business owners. In too many fashion brands, the faces of the brand are all women, while the owners (and thus the financial gains) are all men.
Gender parity doesn’t only mean the faces of the brands (designers and CEOs), it means those managing and reaping the benefits of them.
Positive for sustainability
A recent report from the European Investment Fund shows that women-led firms have higher environmental, social, and governance scores than other companies, and that businesses with greater representation of women in leadership positions have better track records of adopting environmentally friendly practices. This suggests that more equal gender representation also leads to more sustainability. Given the fashion industry produces 10% of carbon emissions (more than aviation and shipping combined), moving towards sustainability within the industry seems very necessary. It seems clear that women can lead the way in this.
Be part of the change
Although Business of Fashion’s research suggests that women CEOs find it particularly hard in fashion, and are often replaced by men, this is changing. More and more small businesses are being led by women. Many of these have female empowerment as part of their mission. Examples include ME+EM, Apparis, Cuyana, Sarah Flint, Aday, and culthread of course!
Furthermore, there have been positive moves in leading fashion houses. In 2017, Clare Waight Keller was the first woman appointed to lead Givenchy since 1952. Maria Grazia Chiuri enjoyed a similar moment when she became Dior's first female Artistic Director in all of its 70 years. When Karl Lagerfeld passed away, two women were put in charge; Virginie Viard at Chanel and Silvia Venturini Fendi at Fendi.
As consumers, we have the power to use our dollars to support women-owned and women-led businesses, and promote gender equity with that.
culthread is made for women, by women, empowering women
culthread is female-founded and owned, our team is largely made up of women. 80% of culthread’s leaders are women and 74% of our artisans are women.
We create jackets, bags, and clothes which empower the modern woman: stylish, practical, comfortable, and sustainable - no compromises. We’re committed to setting the highest ethical standards for our planet and all its inhabitants which is why ‘wear the love’ is our motto.
We empower them with:
- Style that boosts women’s confidence,
- Practicality (such as pockets, hem and cuff adjustments and hidden rainhoods) that negates the need for a bag or umbrella.
- Comfort so you’re not distracted by the cold or an itch,
- Sustainability because what you wear will only empower you when it’s aligned with your values.
Our Founder Story
“I wear many coats (literally), and many hats (figuratively). Mum, founder, CFO, doctorate student, financial trader, Olympic athlete… are just some of the hats I’ve worn and am currently wearing. Holding various roles is something every woman handles, and the right accessories make a big difference.
Having worked 15 years with leading high-end international outerwear brands, I couldn’t find a single coat with everything I wanted.
My experience in design, production, and manufacturing of high-quality jackets served me to create something new: jackets and accessories that are comfortable, practical, stylish, and sustainable – without any compromises.
Jackets and accessories that empower the modern woman in her many roles.”