Missguided or Miss-Guiding Customers? A review of the C4’s Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester
“Fast fashion – that’s our culture. Bigger, better, faster, sicker.”
These words became the tag line of Channel 4’s new documentary Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester, a four part series which followed the “220 badass bitches” at the top of Missguided. However, despite the promising title, viewers are offered a very limited glimpse inside Missguided’s supply chain in a PR-friendly documentary that is riddled with faux female empowerment.
Female empowerment gets a lot of airtime, as the company seeks to move on from a reputation “that only hot, skinny girls wear our clothes” by filming diverse influencers talking movingly about overcoming obstacles and casting plus-size models. That buzzword, “empowerment”, is used with staggering frequency, parroted by employees to explain why they’re asking models and influencers to perform a dance routine in their knickers. Token plus size influencers may be a regular feature in the company’s campaigns, but empowerment, in this context is a cash grab. It is not about personal, political or social advancement, but persuading women to spend money.
This is only the beginning of Missguided’s problems, as another red flag arises when a Missguided buyer haggles a supplier into making a dress for a mere £7.40. When you consider the cost of the materials, packaging, and shipping it call into question how much money is left to pay the garment workers making the dress.
As the majority of garment workers in the fashion industry are female, Missguided’s mission “to empower young women to look and feel confident for every occasion” is clearly undermined, as throughout the show, there is no evidence of worker empowerment initiatives or payment of a living wage. The reality show antics of the Missguided HQ, then, offer microscopic insight into the company’s daily operations, as viewers are merely offered subtle glimpses of the brand’s global supply chain; once when a sample collection is chased up from a Chinese supplier and again when 1,000 units are ordered from a Pakistani factory and demanded to be delivered in a matter of days.
Instead of providing viewers with transparency in regards to their supply chain, the £350k contract offered to Love Island finalist, Molly-Mae Hague for a collaborative clothing collection is amplified instead. To put this into perspective, £350k is the equivalent of a year’s worth of pay for 1,116 garment workers in Bangladesh, where the average annual wage is just £300. This surely means Missguided pay their garment workers fairly, right? Wrong. An investigation the financial times conducted in 2018 found that 80% of Missguided’s garment workers earn less than $21 a month.
Then we have the issue with fast fashion itself. The UN have reported that 85% of textiles end up in landfill and globally, the fashion industry fashion industry produces more c02 emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
This self-inflicted load is a result of the company uploading over 1,000 new products every week, which encourages the never-ending production of clothes: buying, wearing and ultimately throwing them away at an alarming rate. This environmental destruction eventually becomes the burden of the young women shopping on these sites.
As a result, Missguided’s environment rating is ‘Very Poor’, as the brand doesn’t publish sufficient relevant information about its environmental policies needed to give a higher rating. In fact, the brand was found to be lagging behind other UK retailers in terms of sustainable practices and is said to be among the worst sustainability offenders. The brand also hasn’t signed up to the targets set by the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) which is in place to help retailers reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint.
Sadly, this programme did not give viewer’s an insight into the inner-workings of the ‘fast fashion empire’ that is Missguided; instead, it highlighted that their self-proclaimed feminism and female empowerment is a façade that hides a multitude of sins.