kering is pledging to only hire models over the age of 18
With a stable of luxury brands that includes Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Gucci, the decision marks a major step forward for models’ rights.
Saint Laurent AW19.Photography Mitchell Sams
The emergence of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements saw seismic global change across a whole range of industries, with fashion also experiencing its moment of reckoning. While Terry Richardson’s controversial working practices had been long documented, a leaked 2017 memo revealed that Condé Nast had blacklisted him in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. At the same time, reporters for the New York Times uncovered a series of allegations of sexual exploitation from industry titans including Mario Testino, Bruce Weber and Patrick Demarchelier. All individuals swiftly denied the accusations but have nonetheless been shunned by most major fashion publications.
As the fashion industry continues to grapple with issues of model exploitation and abuse, the luxury conglomerate Kering -- home to labels like Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga -- today announced a new charter that will see them work only with models over the age of 18.
“In our view, the physiological and psychological maturity of models aged over 18 seems more appropriate to the rhythm and demands that are involved in this profession,” says Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International Institutional Affairs at Kering.
The decision affirms the work of activist groups like The Model Alliance and individuals like casting director James Scully, who, a couple of years, ago named and shamed the fashion labels most notorious for mistreating models.
It goes without saying that the ethics of working with underage models have been hotly debated for many years, as well as highlighted in documentaries like Girl Model and Siberia’s Next Supermodel, but it seems that fashion houses are only now realise it’s their responsibility to lead change from the top. Model exploitation might be only one of the many shady corners of the industry, but it’s a good place to start.