Women at ‘female empowering’ fast fashion firm Missy Empire ‘were told to join OnlyFans instead of getting pay rises by bullying male boss who reduced them to tears in toxic workplace’
Women working at a ‘female empowering’ fast fashion firm have claimed they were told to join OnlyFans instead of pay rises by their bullying male boss who reduced them to tears and a ‘ created toxic culture’.
Around 18 female staff at Manchester-based retailer Missy Empire, which is now owned by Frasers Group, claimed young women were targeted by managing director Ash Siddique.
Mr. Siddique and his brother co-founded the fashion firm which they say is ‘for the go-getters, the goal-setters, the kick-ass women who F with convention and create their own kind of beautiful’.
Their XX brand logo stands for the female chromosome which the company says is ‘a subliminal reminder that we are for the woman and we will continue to empower you through the power of clothes’.
But behind the facade of female empowerment, former staff recounted The guardian that they were told to join OnlyFans – a platform to make money from pornographic videos – instead of getting a raise.
“We were just having a conversation about salary increases and he (Ash Siddique) said we should all do OnlyFans as a side job and he would be our agent,” a staff member told the newspaper.
Women who work at a ‘female empowering’ fast fashion firm have claimed they were reduced to tears amid a toxic environment. Pictured: Geordie Shore star Chloe Ferry wearing Missy Empire clothes
Missy Empire co-founders Ash (left) and Ish Siddique are pictured. Ash is accused of making derogatory comments about models’ bodies
The staff allege that Mr Siddique ‘made derogatory comments about models’ body shape and physical appearance’.
It is also alleged that staff were ‘asked to model clothes for the managing director’ and that ‘Missy Empire’s owners ignored formal complaints’.
Seven staff also claimed they were ‘dismissed without reason’ and a further two claimed they were ‘unable to keep copies of their employment contracts’.
The Guardian reports that the claims were backed up by emails, screenshots and testimonies and that Mr Siddique did not respond to the allegations. MailOnline has also contacted Missy Empire for comment.
The investigation found that junior positions at Missy Empire are often filled by young female workers, many employed in their first jobs.
There is also understood to be high turnover at the company, with staff frequently leaving or being fired.
Staff spoke of their excitement at joining the fashion firm before their ‘enthusiasm and confidence were destroyed’.
None of the workers who made the allegations had been with the company for more than 18 months. Many only worked for a few months.
Seven staff also claimed they were ‘dismissed without reason’ and a further two claimed they were ‘unable to keep copies of their employment contracts’. Pictured: Love Island star Laura Anderson wearing a Missy Empire dress
Missy Empire says they are ‘for the go-getters, the goal-setters, the kick-ass women who F with convention and create their own kind of beautiful’
One woman, who started at the end of 2022 before leaving for a new job a year later, told The Guardian she was left in tears from bullying, being shouted at and made a scapegoat for business failures by Mr Siddique.
JD Sports acquired a majority stake in Missy Empire in June 2021 and sold it to Frasers Group in December 2022.
Staff said problems had been flagged at both companies, with at least seven emails – all with different complaints – sent to their HR departments since April 2022.
One email sent by a female employee to Frasers Group HR said: ‘In the conversation I was called an idiot many times, mocked and told that I don’t need to fuck so I should feel free to walk out the door. Ash also said I can’t take my vacation because he can decide when I do, and he doesn’t feel like giving it to me, and if I want to take vacation, I can if I take it unpaid.’
She added: ‘Myself and the other employees are often spoken to in this way. Ash’s behavior while working at Missy Empire left me feeling anxious and depressed.’
In an earlier email, sent in March 2023, she also claimed to have noticed what appeared to be a voice recorder in the staff kitchen ceiling. She sent a picture of it to Frasers Group and asked for it to be looked at.
No action was taken after either email, according to the staff member, who only received a response to say there was no HR function at Missy Empire at the time.
Another female member of staff, who worked at Missy Empire from summer 2022, claims she was fired after Mr Siddique found a list of her grievances which she also emailed to the Frasers Group HR employee relations manager.
Chloe Ross spotted leaving the Eve and Jess Gale Missy Empire in July 2021
Love Island star Kady McDermott and Samira Knighty at The Missy Empire Makeup Master Class at Roc and Rye in Manchester
Demi Sims seen leaving the Missy Empire party in Manchester in July 2021
She complained about a host of issues, including profanity and derogatory comments about staff performance and models’ body shape.
The email says Mr Siddique described a previous model as ‘fat with a pig’s nose’ and that he created a ‘toxic work environment where people fear for their jobs’.
Another member of staff said that she had to try on clothes to see if they fit, even though it was not part of her job. Staff said Mr Siddique was ‘very inappropriate’ and had ‘angry arguments’ in the office.
One worker, who says she was fired without good reason, said that Mr. Siddique described models as ‘too fat’ and that he only wanted those with ‘big trees and big breasts and a small waist’.
A JD Group spokesperson said: ‘We were the majority shareholder in Missy Empire for 18 months between June 2021 and the completed sale of the business in December 2022.
‘Missy Empire was responsible for the day-to-day running of the business, including its own HR procedures. However, as a significant shareholder in the company, Missy Empire colleagues also had the opportunity to escalate any concerns through JD’s HR department or whistleblowing policy.
‘Everyone has the fundamental right to feel safe and respected at work. There have been a small number of issues formally reported to the company during our ownership, and these have been fully investigated and addressed in accordance with JD Group’s procedures.’
Missy Empire and Frasers Group have been approached for comment.