What Leicester Garment Workers Think of Molly-Mae Hague’s Comments

"Come here to a factory and experience it for a couple of days. Then you will know what some people’s 24 hours are like."
Molly-Mae Hague attends the launch party for Molly-Mae Hague's New Pretty Little Thing Collection
Molly-Mae Hague attends the launch party for Molly-Mae Hague's New Pretty Little Thing Collection. Photo: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News

Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague has been slammed for being insensitive after making comments on the Diary of a CEO podcast when trying to explain how “powerful” her potential was in climbing up the career ladder. 


"I just think you’re given one life and it’s down to you what you do with it. You can literally go in any direction,” Hague said. She added that she'd been criticised in the past for thinking everyone equally has 24 hours in a day to succeed despite their personal circumstances, but stood by her comments, explaining: “Technically what I’m saying is correct – we do."

The 22-year-old became the creative director of PrettyLittleThing (PLT) in 2021 and added that she herself will go to "any length" to succeed. In the summer of 2020, after coronavirus ran rampant in the city of Leicester, VICE spoke to two garment workers about how the pandemic shone a light on the modern-day slavery conditions in which fast-fashion labels make their clothing. 

They claimed that whilst making clothes for brands including the Boohoo Group-owned PLT, they were not paid the minimum wage, told not to discuss their pay with other employees and were given fraudulent payslips.

An unflattering independent review by Alison Levitt QC into Boohoo’s Leicester supply chain found that “allegations of unacceptable working conditions and underpayment of workers are not only well-founded but are substantially true”. 


Two years on, both workers are out of a job due to the closure of factories and are struggling in an economic climate that has ravaged the garment industry of the East Midlands city. We caught up with them to ask what they think about Hague’s comments. Their names have been anonymised to protect their identity and gender. 

VICE: What do you make of Molly-Mae Hague’s comments? 
: That's not right and I’m angry. She’s successful because life is easy for her. It’s not for everyone else. Just because you’re rich, you can’t view everyone on the same level. We can’t be the same as you, only we know how hard our life has been like. She should talk less and think more.
Drew: She doesn’t know other people’s jobs, how much they get paid, their life situation. She hasn’t lived my 24 hours. Her 24 hours is very comfortable compared to others. I would like to know how much of her day is doing “hard work” and for how long she works? We worked eight to ten hours, churning out 1,000 clothes every day – being paid £5.50 an hour only a couple of years ago. How can I have the same 24 hours and succeed? My working life started in 1993, being paid £1.75 an hour in this country. What she has said is bad. She has no idea what our lives are like.

Do you think you have the same opportunity as her to succeed as she implied? 
When I was 22, I was working ten hours a day in a factory. She earns a thousand a month probably, but I got less than three pounds back then. [Editor’s note: Hague reportedly signed a multi-million pound deal at PLT.] She doesn’t understand that people were paid £2 to make clothes. How can that be equal?
Drew: No way. It’s so easy for her to say that. She doesn’t have the worry and anxiety about paying her bills, mortgage, buying food, all whilst not once being paid the minimum wage in 30 years of making clothes in Leicester. She can lecture all she likes. Nothing’s equal.

If you could respond to Molly about her comments, what would you say to her? 
It’s very easy to design and wear clothes made by us. You are being paid easy money compared to us. You’re still young; we know what our life has been like and what nearly three decades of making clothes have been like. PLT, the company you now work for, have made clothes on the cheap here for years. The company and factories got rich and succeeded. Not us. We had 24 hours in a day and worked for ten of them. Every single day. Whilst not being paid enough. Come here to a factory and experience it for a couple of days. Then you will know what some people’s 24 hours are like.
Drew: I would say to her in 24 hours try and make one of your designs. Make the cuttings, put the labels on, sew them all together. In fact, give her 48 hours, she won’t be able to do it. But someone can do her job and would be more qualified maybe. You have a very easy life and a privileged job compared to us. Now you’re the creative director of a company who made clothes on the cheap in our city. We made the clothes that you people wear and were paid pennies. How can you say I have the same 24 hours to succeed?