Vivienne Westwood has come under fire for advertising five unpaid internships at her fashion house – some lasting as long as three months – after she controversially said “poor people” buy too many clothes.
The eccentric designer’s London office is recruiting a range of “volunteer” interns to assist staff across departments, from accounting and human resources to graphic design and jewellery making.
Some of the schemes last as long as three months, for approximately five days a week, between 10am and 6pm – mirroring typical working hours for many paid employees.
The placements, which ask applicants to send in a CV and covering letter, demand that interns undertake everyday office tasks, using computer programmes like Word and Excel, with some stating the need to cover “reception duties” when required.
The adverts, which emerged after Dame Vivienne said “poor people” should buy fewer clothes, will fuel the debate over whether unpaid interns who are being asked to do a job are being “exploited”.
Tanya de Grunwald, founder of careers consultancy Graduate Fog, said: “Dame Vivienne saying ‘poor people’ should ‘buy less’ sounded lofty to most of us – but to fashion interns her comments were downright offensive. Giving lifestyle tips to people on low incomes while advertising five unpaid internships is disgusting.”
A statement from Vivienne Westwood’s head office said: “We offer voluntary work placements which we hope that students whom participate find rewarding from both a personal and professional perspective. We aim to raise hopes and expectations rather than impose obligations upon interns.
“The placements offered are flexible and short term and we train and develop participants so that they can obtain the most from the experience. We usually partner with universities who encourage work placements as part of each student’s course.”