What Happened to Nice?
As anyone who’s ever watched an episode of The Rachel Zoe Show (or, god forbid, tried to call a fashion house themselves) knows, basic kindness is a hard thing to come by in the world of fashion. We can’t help but wonder why. Is the trend toward mean a reflection of how tough the business is or is it all about status?
On the one hand, it’s not hard to see why fashionistas have to develop a thick skin. The ratio of fashion jobs to fashion enthusiasts is skewed in a way that makes for a lot of competition. This means that, much like cliche reality show contestants, most fashion industry folks are not here to make friends. They’re here to get ahead, and sometimes the best way to do that is to keep those at your level or below down while desperately trying to get in with those ahead of you. A word of caution, though – someday, those people you trampled on will be the people whose favor you want to curry, and everyone remembers a slight.
There’s also a less generous hypothesis for the unkindness running rampant in the industry: fashion is a high-status industry, peddling expensive goods everyone wants. Just like restaurants, which are often dreadful if they don’t need to be good because of location, fashion folks don’t have to be nice. People will still buy a top-brand bag, even if their salespeople are rude.
Evidence suggests, however, that even when rudeness doesn’t hurt, being kind might get you even further. In their book The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval discuss how their own brand of friendliness helped them rise to the top of the advertising world. We know a few fashionistas who should strongly consider giving it a read.
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