Victoria Beckham Ltd is being sued by a former employee who sustained a hand injury while working for the London-based fashion label.
Kristina Kubiliene, a pattern cutter, worked for the celebrity brand between 2011 and 2019, and was said to have loved her job, where she was employed full time. Miss Kubiliene allegedly sustained carpal tunnel syndrome when working 15 hour days, seven days a week, without regular breaks in the run-up to fashion weeks. Appointed solicitors Slater and Gordon confirmed legal action is being taken.
Natasha Moyeed, Mr Kubiliene’s representative lawyer, said in a statement: “She was a pattern cutter and very good at this job, but because she was good she was tasked with working for long periods and with heavy fabrics. It was these repetitive, awkward and sustained movements which cause carpel tunnel syndrome to advance rapidly in hands and wrists.”
“When I last saw her she could barely open her handbag. She is unable to work and has had to undergo surgery to have any kind movement in her hands.”
Giving further insight into the employment conditions, Moyeed said: “Her job involved lifting rolls of fabric, weighing 20 to 35kg, then laying out and pinning the fabric to patterns. Once pinned she would shrink the fabric with an industrial iron, again very heavy. This procedure would take 30 to 60 minutes. Next she would cut the fabric, which required significant pressure and accuracy holding with her left hand and cutting with her right. This task took up to three hours depending on the garment.”
“Normally she worked 10am to 6pm, but twice a year for two weeks she attended New York Fashion Week. For a month beforehand her workload increased to up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, without regular breaks or rest. During these times her hands and wrists were so sore she needed painkillers to work.”
In fashion, long hours is a given
Long hours in the run-up to fashion week is practically a given for most fashion brands, who hold castings in the days before a show. Seamstresses often work unprecedented hours to tailor alterations and fit each look to a model, sometimes requiring to work 48 hours with little or no sleep.
Post surgery, simple tasks like writing, pulling, gripping, and pinching often weeks or months to master.
“She is still unable to work and has such a weak grip she needs help around the home to do basic tasks,” Ms Moyeed continued. “It is not known when, if ever, she will be able to return to a similar role, or any kind of employment.” Solicitors Slater and Gordon claim Victoria Beckham Ltd failed to implement measures to prevent the long-term injury.
Pattern cutters are integral to fashion houses, engineering a designer’s ideas and sketches into physical forms and garments, requiring an in-depth understanding of the three-dimensional human body. The honed technical skills take years of practice, yet the expertise is rarely lauded in the manner as that of a designer.
Image courtesy of Victoria Beckham