Were Employees Forced To Buy Merchandise At Prada Japan?
Bovrisse and two other former employees claim that, beginning in January 2009, the company forced its workers to purchase products. The sales could not be entered as employee purchases but had to be entered as a customer's full price purchase. That way the purchases would give Prada Milan, the worldwide headquarters of the brand, the impression that Japanese stores were meeting their sales targets. Employees were then paid back out of funds that were to be used for the company's holiday party and were marked as as "campaign" salary. But even then the employees were responsible for taxes on what was considered bonus pay and had to pay additional money. This situation limped along for a while and even after the reimbursements ran dry some Prada Japan employees were told that they needed to continue to purchase products or else the company would be forced to downsize. The requirements continued and Bovrisse says she personally bought $20,000 worth of products. Employees were strapped, they were struggling to pay their bills but were also scared that if they didn't buy they wouldn't have jobs. It's unclear when if ever Prada Milan knew about the program but so far it has denied responsibility for the program.
Luxury continues to be in flux in Japan.In 2008 Louis Vuitton scrapped plans for a new Ginza flagship store. Last year, Versace pulled out of Japan altogether. Instead of luxury stores, it's fast fashion stores like Uniqlo, H&M and Zara that are doing big business now. Forever 21 recently opened in the Ginza district where once only luxury brands flourished. In the past years, logo chasing was important to the Japanese but now many trendsetters favor a high-low approach, combining expensive pieces with more inexpensive items or pairing vintage finds with new pieces. The recognizable names are no longer quite as valuable to the consumer and luxury brands have seen sales drop as a result.