The Wet Seal Inc. agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged managers were told to fire African-American employees and hire and promote white workers who fit the Wet Seal brand image. Under the settlement, Wet Seal agreed to “post open positions, implement new selection criteria and interview protocols, revamp its annual performance reviews and compensation structure, add regional human resources directors, implement more diversity and inclusion communications and training for field and corporate office employees, and enhance its investigations training and processes.”Wet Seal said it is committed to using diverse models in its marketing. Lead-plaintiff Nicole Cogdell filed the suit in Santa Ana federal court in July, charging that the company had a general policy and practice of discriminating against nonwhite employees, which included lower pay rates, limited promotion opportunities and the firing of African-American store managers based on their race.The suit alleged the company insisted on “a ‘brand’ or ‘image’ of its employees that predominately reflects a white image, an image reinforced by Wet Seal’s advertising.”Plaintiffs cited an e-mail from Barbara Bachman, former senior vice president of store operations, who after a store tour wrote, “Store teams — need diversity African-Americans dominate — huge issue.”Cogdell, an African-American store manager, who was told she would be laid off after the store visit, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2009. She was ultimately not fired and brought her case to federal court last year, at what was a time of significant turmoil for the company. Comparable-store sales fell 15.6 percent that July, the same month chief executive officer Susan McGalla was fired. Activist shareholders were pressuring the retailer and ultimately succeeded in rejiggering its board.The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that the company’s managers openly stated they wanted employees who had “the Armani look, were white, had blue eyes, thin and blonde in order to be profitable.” It is illegal for employers to base hiring decisions on race, but image-conscious retail might be especially prone to pushing the line.Cogdell’s attorney, Nancy DeMis, said fashion is an industry where “people are accustomed to making judgments based on people’s looks” and that some companies are beginning to “really push back on letting that slide into discrimination.” “You have to be vigilant,” DeMis said. “You have to be introspective, and you have to keep in mind that the law does not allow you to make that kind of decision about your workforce. Unless you show that it’s a bona-fide occupational qualification, those are not the kinds of distinctions that you are allowed to make.”DeMis said Wet Seal has committed to making real change and should be a model for other companies. The retailer also worked with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to create a diversity program last year. “From the moment I became [ceo] of Wet Seal in January, I made clear that we value a diverse workforce and believe that a dynamic and representative employee base allows us to best serve all of our customers,” said John D. Goodman. “We are pleased to put this matter behind us.” Money from the settlement could go to as many as 1,600 people who have worked at Wet Seal.
“I design by visualization. I see things, and most of the time they’re not practical to actually make, and what I’ve found here, it’s like anything’s possible. This is the first time that I’ve made a sole unit in two months. That process usually would take six, so here’s a difference,” said @virgilabloh of the first sneaker sample he created for @louisvuitton, pictured here. Abloh spoke to WWD about his debut collection for Louis Vuitton, creating @kendalljenner’s #metgala outfit and redefining the heritage brand. Read the full story on WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @alfredo_piola)
The world’s largest producer of denim @iskodenim is sharing the strategy behind its product development process. Read our full interview with ISKO’s product development manager Baris Ozden on the company’s extensive research practices, upcoming denim trends and the latest material innovations on WWD.com. #iskodenim
“I genuinely fell in love with water, I fell in love with Fiji, I fell in love with the whole life that we lived for those few months,” says @mrsamclaflin of filming for his new movie “Adrift” with @shailenewoodley. The 31-year-old actor spoke with WWD about his upcoming projects, meeting Jamie Dornan and working with co-star Woodley. #wwdeye (📷: @jamstoker)
3 years ago, fans of the late singer Aaliyah started calling for a collaboration with @maccosmetics. With the strength of social media — including mock ups of products — 25,000 people signed a Change.org petition for a limited-edition collection, and MAC couldn’t ignore the buzz. Tomorrow, MAC will unveil MAC x Aaliyah, a tribute to the singer who passed away nearly 17 years ago. Head to our stories to preview the new collection, which was worked on by Aaliyah’s family and inspired directly by her makeup bag. #wwdbeauty
Artistic director @clarewaightkeller will be dedicating @givenchyofficial’s fall 2018 couture show in Paris on July 1 to house founder Hubert de Givenchy, who passed away in March at age 91. Givenchy said the collection would be “an homage to his iconic creations, technique, and personal lexicon” and a “celebration of his timeless elegance and grace.” Head to WWD.com to read more. #wwdfashion (📷: Delphine Achard)
La Double J made a name for itself with its vintage-inspired prints, but for resort, designer JJ Martin has ventured into new territory: enter rich jewel toned solids and decadent embellishment, in the form of appliqués, crystals and sequins. #wwdfashion #resort19 #ladoublej
This Just In: J. Crew Group has named Johanna Uurasjarvi as its chief design officer.
Uurasjarvi succeeds Somsack Sikhounmuong, who left the company last September. Tap the link in bio for the full report. #wwdnews
“She came into my hotel room and she was like, ‘I have Chanel and Christian Dior.’ She was like, ‘Chanel likes you.’ And I was like, ‘I’m going to start crying,’” breakout star Maddie Hasson tells WWD of her styling sessions Molly Dickson. “I really like classic, elegant things. I love the way Anna Wintour dresses.” Read more about Hasson’s role in @impulseseries on wwd.com. (📸: @jgreenery ) #wwdeye
@virgilabloh revealed he's working with Australian stylist and
Vogue Australia fashion director @christinecentenera for his debut @louisvuitton men's collection, which will be presented in Paris on June 21. Centenera met Abloh while both working with Kanye West, where she consulted on his all his runway collections since his debut spring 2012 women's wear show. Read the full story on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews (📷: @asussmanphoto)