By avi maxwel / in , , , , /

The 10-minute survey was shared with Vogue Business newsletter subscribers, shared online via LinkedIn and Instagram, and directly with over 350 industry contacts. The data analysis was conducted by an internal Condé Nast custom research team, alongside the writers of this series. Statistical comparisons between groups were used at a 95 per cent confidence interval.

In order to take the survey, respondents had to be over 16 and work in the fashion industry. Among respondents, 55 per cent were under the age of 35, and 44 per cent were over 35 (one per cent preferred not to answer). Women made up 80 per cent of respondents, and men made up 18 per cent (two per cent self-described or preferred not to answer). Thirty per cent were freelance, and 67 per cent were engaged in full-time employment. In terms of seniority, 61 per cent held managerial positions.

There are some inevitable limitations to this data. While the survey was shared with a global audience, the majority of respondents were based in the US (35 per cent) and the UK (30 per cent). Due to cultural sensitivities and differing legal constraints on data collection, questions about race/ethnicity and sexuality were only asked to respondents in the US and the UK. As the majority of respondents in these markets were white or Caucasian (66 per cent for the US and 70 per cent for the UK), all other races and ethnicities were too low to report on separately. For the purpose of analysing the report, these were grouped together, so statistics about race and ethnicity refer throughout to white people compared to people of colour throughout.

To avoid oversimplifying a complex global industry, and conflating the top and bottom of the supply chain, the survey focused on post-production roles: buyers and merchandisers, journalists and copywriters, PR and marketing professionals, creative and strategic consultants, models and influencers, and creative roles such as designers, photographers, stylists, hairstylists and makeup artists. This survey does not include garment workers or supply chain workers, whose plight is worthy of further attention, but is distinct from the scope of this research.

Debunking the dream

This series explores how a person’s background impacts their success, the lifestyle that a successful career in fashion demands, and the subsequent mass burnout fashion workers are facing. These factors threaten to expose the ‘dream’ of fashion — which its workers are both victims and perpetrators of — as a fallacy. In response, workers feel compelled to keep recreating and reinforcing the dream, to prove, to themselves and others, that the sacrifices they have made to work in this way were worthwhile. But, in the context of compounding global crises — climate change, the cost of living crisis, worsening inequalities and political unrest — the reality of fashion is getting harder to ignore. Now, the industry needs to rebrand as something vital and fundamentally changemaking, if it wants to retain talent as well as profit. However, with a workforce that is experiencing systemic burnout, that’s hard to do.