Nowadays, there are many fashion documentaries: I decided to binge watch another – ‘Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester‘. Being relatively new to the industry, there’s still a lot to learn. I was looking forward to the insight that this three-part docu-series would give me. After watching ‘Inside Manchester‘, I was introduced, by name, to a total of 25 staff members (in order of appearance):
- Zee – Head of Design
- Victoria – Senior Designer
- Treasure – Creative & Campaign Manager
- Eleanore – Senior Brand Manager
- Rohini – Designer
- Shay – Designer
- Samantha – Brand Marketing Director
- Nitin – CEO
- Steven – Chief Commercial Officer
- Natalie – Buying Manager
- Shelley – Buyer
- Karolina – Product Technologist
- Tom – Merchandising Manager
- Elizabeth – Senior Buyer
- Victoria – Head of Buying
- Glenn – Internal Comms Partner
- Leighton – Personal Assistant to CEO
- Ben – Senior Creatice Manager
- Cassie – Social Media Executive
- Lauren – Assistant Buyer
- Robin – Chief Product Officer
- Ashish – Corporate Social Responsibility Manager
- Aqeel – Operations Support Coordinator
- Jo – Missguided Store Manager
- Grace – Return and Supply Base Manager
The first episode throws me straight into the bold and boisterous personality of the Missguided office where anything goes, from tongue-in-cheek banter to unusual office paraphernalia. The head-office staffee in the intro described it perfectly as “stepping into a crazy tornado”. Shortly after, it’s revealed that Missguided had lost £26 million in 2018, a figure that I didn’t expect as I assumed until now they were largely successful. The fashion industry is often slated as notoriously ruthless: the show makes this clear by pointing out Missguided’s competition – Pretty Little Thing and MissPap, to name a couple. The backlash against Fast Fashion is briefly mentioned, something I looked forward to seeing addressed later on in the series. As the episode starts, the design team – led by Zee come together to plan upcoming lookbooks.
Swiftly, we’re introduced to the Creative Team. Eleanore – Senior Brand Manager emphasises the importance of influencer marketing, something that fills Missguided’s pockets generously. This rings true as they sign Jordan Lipscombe – a highly successful influencer (1.7 million followers on YouTube) for a campaign and 41-piece collection representative of her personal style. Things seem to take a turn as the samples they need for a swiftly approaching shoot haven’t arrived yet. Victoria rings the suppliers for an update, soon to find that the samples are stuck in customs at Manchester Airport. Though down to the wire, samples were eventually delivered and the shoot can go on.
Samantha, Steven and Nitin have a meeting about booking Molly Mae for a brand deal. They tell Nitin they wanted to book her for a two collection over 6 months. When Nitin questioned why not longer, Steven answer that her popularity may fade over time.
The Jordan Lipscombe 11 hour shoot begins in London. The first location for the shoot doesn’t have great scenery nor favourable weather conditions. Quick-thinking Treasure takes the shoot to a grungy stairwell on-site, coaching Jordan and managing to get some good shots. However, the momentum doesn’t last long as the shoot is scuppered by a misunderstanding involving the taxi driver taking half of the team to the wrong location. The other half of the team- with Treasure arrive eventually.
The big pitch to Molly Mae is in a few hours, with Nitin and Samantha pulling out all the stops to impress her and her team. An £80k range rover is added to Molly Mae’s offer with an array of other treats. Returning to Missguided’s HQ, an IT issue prevents people from accessing Misguided’s website and the new Jordan Lipscombe collection; eventually the error is fixed and sales start to pour in. By the end of the episode, everyone is feeling hopeful that Missguided’s road to recovery is well under way.
As the work day starts, the staff are nursing hangovers after a company party the night before. Treasure and Eleanore headed to London to cast women for a body positive campaign. With so many casting auditions to sift through in four weeks, it seems the pressure is ramped up. Just as determined as always, Nitin heads some “disruptive” marketing that draws inspiration from one of Missguided’s more successful publicity campaigns: ‘the #pamboghini‘. Nitin instructs Glenn to send an email out to everyone, informing them to gather outside of the Missguided HQ to see the newly wrapped car. Additionally, he wants the social media team to get a celebrity papped in the car. The creative duo, Treasure and Eleanore then travel to Ibiza to film a summer commercial set to air during Love Island. Whilst this is happening, the social media team storm London Fashion Week with reality TV star – Gemma Collins to kick off the disruptive campaign.
Later on after the commercial is filmed, Missguided are told by the Advertising Standards Agency that their advert objectifies women. Treasure and Nitin aren’t too concerned however, as being disruptive is what Missguided is all about. There are no shortage of Ibiza trips, as Natalie, Rohini and Shelley go on an inspiration excursion to seek out upcoming trends.
Episode 3 starts off with the ‘Dresses Team‘ preparing clothes to sell during the festive season. They are set the task of pitching 600 dresses to Head Buyer – Victoria, 30 of which will appear in a massive TV advert. Soon it was time for the Dresses Team to present to Victoria; unfortunately it didn’t go as well as they hoped. Victoria sends them away to redo the task before they are to present to Nitin. The second presentation has a slightly more positive outtake: there are mixed responses towards some products, estimates were good while others not so much. The Dresses Team are hoping their final set of garments do as well as other projects, namely the collaboration with Hayden Williams.
While this is taking place, the ethics team led by Ashish look for a new supplier. They find a potential candidate in Basic Premier – Ashish scouted the factory from nook and cranny to investigate their practices and treatment of employees.
Things aren’t always stressful though as the team decides to host a gender reveal party for Head of Buying – Victoria. It seems a little girl is on the way, she celebrates alongside preparing for maternity leave.
I was then introduced to Aqeel who hosts the Sample Sale, where employees can buy left over sample stock. As the flash-sale finishes, it seems everyone is happy with their purchases.
The creative team seems to never stop as they film a holiday season TV commercial in Paris that is then premiered to staff at HQ.
The final episode of the four-part series kicks off with Missguided launching their very first ski range. Due to budget overspend on a previous project, Treasure has to do things differently. Adding to this setback, the inhumane weather conditions make the shoot more than difficult for all involved. At HQ the ‘Plus Size Range Team‘ cast a plus size model to help advertise the range. The final episode ends with a company celebration of the past years’ hard work and successes.
THE FINAL VERDICT
The show, from a production viewpoint, was well made. The film crew were friendly and managed to capture the heart of the company and the people in it. With all documentaries and media in general, there will always be a bias: editing will affect the viewers perception. With that being said, I feel like Channel 4 genuinely made an effort to just film the staff’s everyday work lives realistically.
I wouldn’t say there’s anyone in particular I dislike. Some people made me feel uneasy and slightly intimidated, i,e, Victoria and Treasure. There were many people who didn’t get much screen time or the chance to show their personality which is unfortunate. I related most to Lauren, the newly employed Assistant Buyer. Being new too, I have insecurities about my abilities: knowing someone with much more experience and knowledge also feels the same, made me feel better.
Treasure is someone I hated to love. I wouldn’t get along with her, but I know I can learn a lot from her. I admire her bold, gutsy attitude and approach: she’s assertive and knows what she wants. That’s something I aspire to be.
The overriding atmosphere was a fun, fast paced one where everyone is buzzing with ideas and creativity. The dominance of women in the workplace plays a part in the success of the company. With them selling womenswear and interacting with female clients, their real life experience helps shape the voice of Missguided and connect with ‘everyday’ women. I frequently noticed in the documentary when discussing a product, employees mentioning whether it be something “she” (the customer) would wear. Catching me off guard, it was as if they were personal styling, rather than dressing the millions. The mindset of the company and its employees was eye-opening.
I would have liked more information into the garment workers experience as they’re crucial to the company. This would have also allowed for more open discussions around sustainability, social responsibility and stewardship as a fashion business.
Furthermore, there was a distinct lack of POC representation in the workplace at higher levels, bar the appearance of new Assistant Buyer – Lauren. Although Missguided have pushed and promoted female empowerment, there seems to be a lack of diversity behind the scenes. Representation in fashion is not just about the models, it’s also about the employees in work places like Missguided.
I do feel the documentary provided me with more insight into company culture. It really showed me that there’s not just a designer involved – there are so many working pieces in a fashion company.
I appreciate that there is movement towards not just supporting British manufacturing but responsible, ethical manufacturing too with Ashish’s role heading the Ethics Team. What surprised me was that Missguided had a brick and mortar store: I always assumed they were purely an online business.
If you’re a fashion loving millennial..or just a person wanting a crash course into how a fashion company runs, this program is for you. Overall, Inside Missguided: Made In Manchester gave me a look at not just the large organisation behind the success, but also the humanity of the people involved. It’s not just a job, it’s what they love to do day-in day-out.
words by louise worthingon
Fashion editor – charis crawford corri
Disclaimer- all images used within this article have been sourced from Google Images and Missguided‘s official website. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd. does not own the copyright to the images within this article. All rights reserved.