‘If anybody in fashion ever got a sniff of our group messages, it would explode’ says Susie Lau

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

Like Sisyphus, who is condemned to roll a giant boulder up a hill forevermore only for it to roll back down again, Matt Hancock is the national joke that keeps on giving. It is ordained that our former health secretary must endure one humiliating trial after another. He deserves to be ridiculed because, by and large, it’s all basically self afflicted. Nobody told him to snog a colleague awkwardly on CCTV. Nobody forced him to partake in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, where he gamely ate a camel’s penis, a sheep’s vagina and a cow’s anus. Those animals died in vain.

However, to have 100,000 WhatsApp messages leaked by a supposed confidante, who he had enlisted to ghost write his memoir (itself a laughable concept), almost elicits some sympathy. But only because when I look at my WhatsApp and think about the leakable potential, my body shudders even more excessively than when Matt Hancock’s name comes up.

Among my fashion friends, we have a WhatsApp group spanning thousands and thousands of messages that, if anybody in the industry ever got a vague sniff of, would explode into a domino chain of consequences: soured brand relations, broken friendships and possible HR dismissals at various fashion companies. I’m going to put it down to human nature that we can’t help but gossip ceaselessly.

Topics range from creative directors at fashion houses either being fired or changing, to influencers’ fake engagement numbers, bad collections and terrible events. We send each other joke screenshots of what we said just to reiterate the fact that someone will have proof of the ludicrous thing we just said. Okay, the bitch level is high because, yes, some of those Devil Wears Prada clichés are true. But when you’ve worked in any industry for a lengthy period of time, you earn the right to discuss the things that jade or wear you down with your closest friends in assumed privacy.

If anybody in the fashion industry ever got a vague sniff of our group messages, it would explode into a domino chain of consequences

Every now and again we delete our own messages as a way of covering our backs so that we don’t leave any ‘receipts’ behind. We also sometimes suggest we switch to Telegram so our messages disappear, but the pervasive lure of the Meta-owners’ WhatsApp is too powerful. And so on and on this group grows with its goss, tea and messages that can be taken out of context. Hancock, though, is ridiculously trusting to hand over such precious data to a singular person.

The circle of trust within our group is (I hope!) strong enough to contain the chat. But as I’m writing this column, robot dogs called Spot are roaming a runway in Paris at the Coperni fashion show, looking like they are sniffing around and surveilling our every move. People will mistakenly describe the scene as dystopian. Except this man and machine scenario isn’t some fictional Minority Report-inspired distant future. This is happening now. THEY, as in BIG TECH, are already watching us. And what we put out there is never really safe. Whether it’s in the public interest or not is another matter. Let’s just say I’m going to think before the next time I type some flippant remark about a collection that will bite me in the arse in the near future.