Photo: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Photos for Fashion Nova
Fashion Nova, an online retailer, has been on a roll for the past few decades. The brand makes affordable, lightweight, tight, Instagram-friendly clothing that is tailored for influencers and celebrities. The brand offers It’s possible to have sex appeal and it’s promising “real women”They too can be successful. It’s easy to create Instagram art that is immortal without spending much. But what about the real women and men who make the garments and mint the company’s success? They are reported to be treated in a poor way.
The New York Times reported on Monday that the Department of Labor launched an investigation into Fashion Nova in 2016 which found the brand works with contractors that pay its Los Angeles–based workforce a pittance — as little as $2.77 an hour, according to a person familiar with the investigation who spoke to the Times. Many of L.A.’s garment workers, whose bosses are competing with their counterparts overseas to drive wages ever lower, are paid off the books and as little as possible. Some are not documented making it extremely difficult to advocate on their behalf. If this weren’t bad enough, the brand’s contractors owe millions in backpay.
The investigation, which was conducted throughout this year, found that L.A. factories manufacturing Fashion Nova clothing owed $3.8 million in backpay to hundreds of workers. Mercedes Cortes stated to the Times that she was working in a factory that made Fashion Nova clothing for several month. It was in poor shape. “There were cockroaches,”She spoke. “There were rats.”Cortes claims that she was paid approximately $270 for working 60 hours a week. Teresa Garcia, another sewer, has an active suit against Fashion Nova. She recalled receiving bulk orders for 5,000 items of clothing from Fashion Nova and was paid $3.46 per hour for her work.
Erica Meierhans, the company’s general counsel, told the Times in a statement, “We have already had a highly productive and positive meeting with the Department of Labor in which we discussed our ongoing commitment to ensuring that all workers involved with the Fashion Nova brand are appropriately compensated for the work they do. Any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for underpaying anyone working on our brand is categorically false.”
Through an aggressive strategy of partnering with Instagram influencers to sell cheap, form-fitting clothing, Fashion Nova’s sales grew by around 600 percent in 2017. Fashion Nova currently has 17 million Instagram followers. According to Google’s search data, more people looked up Fashion Nova last year than Versace or Gucci.
The brand has developed its own network of brand ambassadors called “Nova Babes,” Instagram influencers who typically aren’t paid outside of free clothing, discount codes, and social media followers. Loads of celebrities rep the brand, too, including Kylie Jenner, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, and Amber Rose; according to the Cut’s own report, any given endorsement of the brand by Jenner can generate $50,000 in sales. Cardi B revealed a partnership with the brand to her Instagram followers in November. “I wanted to do something that is like, ‘Wow, what is that? Is that Chanel? Is that YSL? Is that Gucci?’ No, it’s Fashion Nova.”
What’s next for the online fashionPowerhouse? According to the Times Fashion Nova has reportedly moved a lot of its supply chain overseas over the past year, according to the Times. In 2018, the brand claimed that around 80 percent of its supply came from the United States. According to the company, less than half of its clothing was made in L.A.
This post has been revised.
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