Last night, Molly-Mae Hague opened up about her new role as PrettyLittleThing UK’s creative director. Writing on Instagram that it’s ‘a 24/7 role’, it comes after the 22-year-old influencer was subject to intense scrutiny for her latest career move.
When a fan asked her what being creative director actually means, Molly made it clear that she’s seen all of the commentary around her new appointment and took a moment to clarify her job description.
‘Basically I have creative input/lead within multiple areas of the brand e.g. marketing, buying, influencers,’ Molly wrote on Instagram. ‘It’s a 24/7 role…sharing ideas, coming up with incredible new concepts, having input on shoots, events, you name it. Seeing everyone’s reaction to the announcement of my role actually enlightened me to a lot of things I wanted to get started with straight away within PLT. I’ve read everything. We have so many amazing things coming, PLT is only getting bigger and better from here.’
When Molly says ‘everything’, she’s referring to a lot. As soon as PLT posted the announcement, Molly’s comments were flooded with people asking if she would improve the quality of the clothes, explore ways to reduce the environmental impact of fast-fashion companies like PLT and improve working conditions for garment workers after Boohoo – who own PLT – was accused of paying the staff who make their clothes as little as £3.50 an hour (according to an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times).
In December last year, Boohoo defended it's supply chain policy and said it 'will not tolerate any instance of mistreatment or underpayment of garment workers' after another investigation by The Guardian found that workers in factories in Pakistan say they are paid 29p an hour.
After the Guardian approached Boohoo about their findings, the company began an investigation into one supplier, JD Fashion Ltd, and one factory, AH Fashion, suspending them from their supply chain during the investigation. It also said it was unaware of its clothes being made at another factory accused of mistreatment, and that AH Fashion was not on its approved supplier list.
Many wonder if fans of Molly are overestimating her influence on the company policy, given that the crux of PLT’s success is that it constantly churns out new cycles of incredibly cheap clothing. Improving quality, working conditions and reducing the quantity of clothes it produces would therefore undercut the defining basis of PLT’s profit margin – which is the entire problem with the invention of fast fashion.
But beyond the rightful criticism of PLT’s working practice and what the company as a whole represents, are tons of comments about Molly’s ability to be a creative director of any fashion company.
Read through the comments of her announcement post, and any social media timeline that mentions her name, and you’ll note tons of people condemning her as unqualified for the role with crass jokes about her never having had a real job.
For some then, it’s started a debate about whether or not the reaction to Molly-Mae’s appointment is actually quite sexist – and potentially classist too.
‘I understand people having issues with Molly Mae working for PLT, but the reaction on social media seems to weird compared to other similar celeb deals,’ says Emma, 34 from Essex. ‘When a “big star”, especially a male one, is announced as a similar role and puts out, like, two pairs of trainers, no-one really bats an eyelid. But it feels like the knives are really out for her, wanting to know how much she's getting, the constant dad jokes about whether she'll be clocking on... To me it just smacks a bit of classism because she's a young woman and mostly “just” a Love Island star. But frankly it's all I've heard people talk about on social media all week, so maybe people should give her some credit.’
Charlotte, 33 from Leeds, agrees. ‘All over my twitter feed is people saying "What on earth does Molly Mae now about being a creative director? How the hell will SHE know what to do." Surprise surprise, it's mainly men spouting this stuff. Funny how knowledge and experience is so rarely questioned when it's a man put in the top job. It's accepted and fuss is rarely made. It only becomes a talking point when it's a woman, because it's always a woman's talent and experience that seems to be questioned and debated. Add to that someone who’s interested in make-up and fashion and they can't possibly know about business or have any worthwhile creative visions. The criticism of her reeks of sexism.’
Of course, others disagree. While trolling is never acceptable, some see validity in questioning the system that allows an influencer to take on such a prestigious position over someone who not only has formal qualifications, but may have worked for a lot longer in the fashion industry in jobs with similar levels of experience.
‘I think Molly-Mae gets a disproportionate amount of hate in general, but I don’t think it necessarily stems from classism,’ says Katie, 28 from Manchester. ‘Judging by her YouTube channel she grew up comfortable money-wise, and now she’s a millionaire with £40k worth of bracelets alone on one wrist! I think the more concerning classism should be for the garment workers that will continue to be exploited by her endorsement of the brand, but that’s also nothing new.
‘People judge influencers, especially reality TV influencers, more because they don’t understand what it takes to be an entertaining personality without formal training,’ Katie continued. ‘They are jealous of how much money is in TV, and it seems easy from the outside looking in. Actually, for influencers like Molly that have taken their reality TV platform and formed a following of 6million people, that takes a great understanding of marketing, entertainment and content creation. Molly’s business acumen so far has made her the most successful Love Island contest ant, so I think PLT know exactly what they’re doing employing her as creative director - whether her working hours are 9-5 or not.’
So, where do you land on the Molly-Mae debate?