Last Thursday, an article written by Eric Wilson appeared in the NYT entitled In Fashion, Who Really Gets Ahead? Did any of you read it? The article is about the purported favoritism of gay men in the fashion industry.
AT a cocktail party at Chelsea Piers on Sunday night, an annual Toys for Tots charity drive that draws a crowd of mostly gay men, the designer Peter Som wryly observed that there were so many designers, retail executives and publicists present that if the pier collapsed, “there would be no fashion industry tomorrow.”
That quote sticks in my craw; it sounds arrogant. Peter Som is grossly exaggerating and inflating the relative importance of gay men in the business because while they may be designing, gay men are not disproportionately running companies. I think the quote detracts from the real issue. The thing that is bugging me, has always bugged me, is why are so few women making it in the business to the extent that they’re running companies? Saying that the lack of women is due to discrimination, less opportunity or differing life choices just doesn’t cut it for me. If that were the case, then how can it be that 97% of sewn products companies are started by women -as long ago as 1992 (according to US census data)? If there were limited opportunities for women in this business, then how could they be starting companies? It’s a well-known fact that women are more likely to succeed at entrepreneurship than men so if that’s the case, then why do 98% of companies end up being owned by men?
I’d like to know your thoughts so read the article if you’re inclined. Also, keep in mind that while the focus of the article is about gay men predominating, I really think that’s a distracting detail that detracts from the real issues. Why aren’t women keeping and growing their companies? If women have always been the innovators, risk takers and entrepreneurs in this business, why do they bail?
Nurture people, not products