Why Retail Breeds Sexual Harrassment

Once upon the nineties, Jasmine Sola was one of those local urban chains that sells "premium denim" and Tory Burch flats and upwardly mobile casual wear like that. A story about a sexual harassment scandal facing this once-beloved chain of fashion boutiques in month's Boston Magazine, ahem, touches on a lot of the themes you'll find in the American Apparel case. Only, you know, like worse. The chain's owner, Luciano Manganella, is accused of shoving his hands down a 23-year-old employee's pants and asking her to teach him the Kama Sutra, using another female employee act as a cover to hide his mistress from his wife, and forcing the human resources director — the fucking HR director!!! — to blow him.

Painfully well-reported — and seemingly corroborated by numerous anonymous comments on the magazine website — the story nevertheless tries to muster a bit of empathy for Luciano, a "broken man", who claims the allegations were part of a conspiracy by New York & Company — which had acquired his company and wanted to get rid of him — to undermine his authority. Other female employees defend Manganella, claiming generalized pervyness was just sort of part of his "avuncular" style and that New York & Company ran the boutique into the ground.

None of this, of course, is shocking. This shit happens throughout the world of retail, and I will tell you why: bad behavior runs rampant in the world of fashion, and a lot of people in the retail business see themselves as being in the fashion business — since, you know, they sell clothes. But the money in retail is even shittier than it is in fashion, and the chances of fame or glory or glamour are immeasurably lower. Meanwhile, the talent required to run a good chain store is more of a tangible "hustle" type talent, whereas in fashion it is more amorphous "creative" talent. I am not going to stereotype here, but one of these talents tends to be more gay and the other tends to be more straight. Meanwhile, the people doing the selling — whether models or cute sales clerks — are basically paid to be pretty. So anyway, like I said: problems. It's a vicious cycle. And to that end, here's the last line of the story:

Through it, he's seeking to void a noncompete agreement he'd signed with New York & Company. Because if all else fails, Luciano Manganella has a vision for a new business.
He says he would like to open a lingerie store.

Luciano Manganella's Final Sale [Boston Magazine]