Alexander McQueen sued by former unpaid intern

Thursday, 20 February 2014
altRachel Watson, the pseudonym given to the former intern by lawyers, has filed a lawsuit against British fashion house Alexander McQueen for a four month unpaid internship. Her case was filed on Friday, during the opening of London Fashion Week while King's College London students took to the streets and protested outside Somerset House for the protection of interns in the fashion industry.

Watsonalt is asking for 6,415 pounds in “lost wages” she did not receive from the fashion house when she undertook an internship from 2009-2010 and argues that British law was broken when Alexander McQueen failed to her the national minimum wage. Her workload during her unpaid tenure included the reparation of embellished garments, sketching out drawings for embroidery and dying fabrics, according to the Guardian.

The former intern went to the campaign group Intern Aware to help her finally get payment, as the group previously was known from helping interns obtain payment from X Factor and the Arcadia Group. Chris Hares, campaigns manager at Intern Aware, believes that “fashion is a competitive industry with high profits, and the idea that one of the most profitable companies in the world could have people working for free is shameful.”

Watson explains that she only took on the internship because she did not see any other “way into the fashion industry”. In a statement issued through her lawyers, Watson says she quickly realized she was being exploited, but was afraid to confront the fashion house as they held all the cards to her future in the fashion industry in their hands.

A spokesperson at Alexander McQueen said the following statement concerning the Watson case: “We understand this relates to an intern who was with us four years ago. We had no idea until now that she had any concern about the time she spent at Alexander McQueen. We've paid close attention to the debate in this area and we now pay all our interns.”

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