Nepotism: the designer drug you wish you had
If you are a part of London’s new underclass [read as: Millennials] then you will be well aware of the emotional roulette involved with knowing you need connections to get any job. The majority of us will be the product of parents who lived through the 70s and 80s – they were gifted with a now unique certainty that if one works hard enough, they can achieve anything in any profession. Anyone graduating south of 2008 knows this not to be the case and especially so if the job you seek is under that awning labeled “fashion”.
Fashion journalism, editorial, production and everything in between have been a draw for me for years. A collector and hoarder of most titles, I’ve read magazines and used the artful images for reference since early secondary school. I felt fortunate to, during university, secure an internship (unpaid) working on shoots with celebrities and the like as well as getting to attend fashion week. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say and I wish I’d seen that I was working within a system that only allows a very select and privileged few to flourish. Truthfully speaking, unless you are a born Londoner, have “savings” your parents gave you or some similar circumstance that allows you to sustain yourself, there is no way to facilitate the unpaid internship that might get you a poorly paid position afterward.
You wonder, “how do all of these other people work here? How have they worked their way up to being in these positions? Is it because my surname is not double-barreled, European or both?” But if you get a smidgeon closer you begin to hear things, the connections become clear, Central London based extended families come out, the boarding school rhetoric emerges. This is not to defame or detract from in of those backgrounds per se, but rather highlight, there is a certain set of characteristics that most individuals in creative positions house. If one isn’t born in to a family that will openly support your goal to become the next André Leon Talley (because I too would love Anna Wintour to have a food-specific intervention with me), what does one do? The simplest answer is to follow in the footsteps of others and find a connection, any, and flagellate it relentlessly. Then you’re in - you can start the almost gratifying process of working your way up while being aware that you aren’t earning as much as your friend who did economics at university. There is, unfortunately, more to the process than that. If you are lucky enough to find someone who can help you secure a position, there is no guarantee it will be in the area you desire or something you enjoy. Finding a nepotistic connection is the equivalent to yelling to the audience for your answer on any game show in the hopes they can help you win your £500,000 lump sum. You might get the right answer, you might not. But then there is the twist of the knife – once you are in, you will almost certainly feel an obligation to stay there, no matter how wrong or detrimental it is, because that family friend you might seen next month helped you.
Most people aren’t in their dream job, and we collectively ignore/accept this. But when you think about it, that must also mean that the people snatching up those coveted positions at brands and in creative studios must be in the same position. You could be negative, and say that means people who don’t even want your dream job already have it - or you could be positive and think; karma is already making sure they aren’t enjoying themselves. See, Bronze linings.