Review: Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester

Channel 4’s Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester documentary shows behind the scenes of fast fashion brand, Missguided. However, the documentary masks the company’s unethical practices and underpaid factory workers, with the Missguided employees’ bubbly and likeable personalities.

With the UK’s fast fashion industry worth a staggering £26 billion, a documentary showing an insider look at one of the UK’s biggest fast fashion brands, Missguided, was sure to raise a few eyebrows and ruffle a few feathers. The Channel 4 documentary gives us an insider view of Missguided’s HQ, which is based in Manchester (hence the title). As mentioned on the show, London is no longer considered the fashion capital of the UK, as it has been replaced by Manchester with its booming creative industries – especially within the fast fashion industry, with competitors like BooHoo and Pretty Little Thing all based up North. As a result of this, the documentary shows the Missguided employees dealing with the stress and pressure they face from their competitors. As well as this, the company’s £26 million loss in 2018 is emphasised, proving that every decision counts.

However, the cash savvy attitude of the Missguided team doesn’t always come across well. The various money-saving choices, such as trying to negotiate the price of a dress down to £7, plus-sized models being “too expensive” or even the lack of transparency over how much their garment workers are paid, were questionable and immoral to say the least. This was then contradicted when the documentary showed the Missguided founder, Nitin’s, multi-million pound Chelsea property and the process of offering Love Island star, Molly-Mae, a £350k deal, which also included royalties and bribes such as an £80k range rover. As the narrator (who funnily enough is a Missguided employee) states, each decision is made in the hopes of making “shitloads of money”. Interestingly, the £1 bikini scandal from 2019 wasn’t bought up, and on the subject of scandal, the employees embrace it, rejoicing in the fact that people are talking about the brand. Despite a feeble attempt at an apology from Missguided, the documentary shows that the employees clearly don’t care how much the garment workers making the £1 bikini or the £7 dress are receiving for their labour, as they attempt to ‘haggle’ production costs down to a couple of pounds.

The ultimate sign of the brand’s ignorance over the negative connotations of fast fashion had to be their total lack of recognition of the environmental effect of the industry. The third episode saw Nitin give an interview in which he awkwardly attempts to dodge the question of “how are you tackling the issues of fast fashion?”. His answer? “Fast fashion gets painted with one brush, which isn’t necessarily fair.” It would’ve been interesting to hear how they plan to tackle the fact that 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textiles, that almost all of Missguided’s clothes contain polyester – a non-biodegradable material, and how 10% of global carbon emissions come from the apparel industry. The lack of transparency shown on the documentary is instead replaced by the antics inside the highly Instagrammable, all pink Missguided HQ.

Missguided’s message that they attempt to put across in this documentary is female empowerment, with Creative Director and biggest personality of the show, Treasure, truly embodying the ‘Boss Bitch’ mentality that they stand for. Though as the documentary shows this brand of feminism and inclusivity that the company puts across is no more than a façade. They show the process of hiring plus-sized models for a plus-sized range, but are heard saying that the model has “too much curve” or “doesn’t look like a size 20”. To make the situation worse, the plus-sized clothing doesn’t even fit the customers correctly, with 75% of orders of one dress being returned, showing a lack of research and awareness towards their customers. The second episode shows the ‘Love Thy Self’ campaign, which embraced all body types and shapes, but then the documentary goes on to show how the models casted for the majority of shoots are tall and thin, fitting the millennial ‘beauty standard’ and really not representing a majority of women at all.

This documentary is disappointing from Channel 4, after they’d previously aired a Dispatch investigation in 2017 looking into how little Missguided were paying their garment workers. Fast forward three years, and they’re now airing a show that essentially glorifies fast fashion. Inside Missguided shows a rose-tinted perspective of fast fashion, covering the various scandals and global issues that surround the industry, with the fun and female-lead atmosphere of the Missguided workplace. Unfortunately, to Missguided it seems that ‘Boss Bitches’ only exist within the office, as female empowerment clearly doesn’t apply to their female garment workers, or those who don’t fit the Instagram beauty standard.

Megan Finch

Featured Image Source: Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester // YouTube.

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