Fashion Nova is no stranger to making headlines. The brand was recently in the news because of a lawsuit filed by luxury retail brand Versace for copying their designs. Less than a month later, Fashion Nova has come under fire once again for having unsanitary work conditions and paying their employees less than minimum wage.
Fashion Nova is known for making new styles at a rapid rate. Because they can recreate runway fashion with a high turnover rate, they’re extremely marketable to the public. But at what cost? The NY Times released an article that highlights the working conditions of Fashion Nova employees. “In investigations conducted from 2016 through this year, the department discovered Fashion Nova clothing being made in dozens of factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of workers, according to internal federal documents that summarized the findings and were reviewed by The New York Times. Those factories, which are hired by middlemen to produce garments for fashion brands, paid their sewers as little as $2.77 an hour, according to a person familiar with the investigation.”
Fashion Nova sites no wrong doing. “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,” Erica Meierhans, Fashion Nova’s general counsel, said in a statement to The Times. “Any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for underpaying anyone working on our brand is categorically false.” The brand also refuted the claims via their Twitter account.
The NY Times sat down with a former sewer of the brand to to discuss the unsanitary work conditions along with the subpar pay wage. Ms Cortes, a 56 year-old woman who worked at the Coco Love factory in Vernon, CA for a few months, says “There were cockroaches. There were rats. The conditions weren’t good.” She worked 7 days a week and did not have a steady pay rate. The faster she was able to produce, the more she was able to make. On average, she earned $270 in a week, the equivalent of $4.66 an hour, she said.
In 2016, Ms. Cortes resigned from the Coco Love factory and later reached a settlement with the company for $5,000 in back wages. For the value of each finished product, factory workers would only make $2-$4 per item. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the brand pays their celebrity ambassadors thousands of dollars to wear and post their clothing, but pays their employees a couple of bucks per item.
The NY Times spoke with other workers who recalled the same treatment. Sixty-five hour work weeks that resulted in $225 per week. Between the lawsuits for copying designs and the back payment owed to most Fashion Nova factory employees, the brand may have a very short shelf life. Check out the rest of the NY Times article here.