LVMH and Kering Implement New Guidelines to Protect Models

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LVMH and Kering announced early Wednesday morning their joint ordinance explicitly titled “The Charter on Working Relations With Fashion Models and Their Well-Being” effective immediately in advance of the Spring/Summer 2018 fashion month. The two companies collectively own 33 brands, many of which are influential in making a model’s career, like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Gucci and Saint Laurent so the charter is a significant course of action. Antoine Arnault, a member of LVMH’s Board of Directors stated, “As the leader in the luxury sector, we believe it is our role to be at the forefront of this initiative. We have the responsibility of building new standards for fashion and we hope to be followed by other players in our sector.”

More than just banning “skinny models” the charter includes 8 detailed segments that zero in on a bevy of workplace matters (that might sound like givens in other “workplaces”) from “working conditions”, “health and care” “nudity and appearance” and “complaints and audits” and was drafted with the consultation of industry professionals. Included amongst those is casting director James Scully who has been outspoken in addressing issues of model mistreatment in the industry and holding the industry accountable. Scully’s responsible for calling attention to reports of models being left in the dark for hours in a stairwell at a Balenciaga casting that led to in-house action being taken as well as an impactful address to fashion leaders at BoF’s VOICES about cruelty and discrimination at castings. In fact, the charter was initiated the day he made the Instagram post regarding the casting in February says Scully, “Both Kering and LVMH reached out to me that day and I met with Kering and both companies agreed to join together to combat this problem.” 

For Scully it comes down to giving the models and agents their power back. Exclusively talking to, the casting director maintained, “I feel like several stylists and casting directors and their egos had hijacked the business. It was now a power game and we’re just using the girls as bargaining chips because of the amount of shows they all have, instead of working together to help these girls grow their careers.” He states the stylist and casting directors are the first people the models are exposed to, ergo must be first responsible for how the models are treated, “Many designers know nothing about what we present to them so they trust us. Also if we are being employed as freelancers by public companies we have the responsibility to act as though we are full time employees. If we were, most of the behavior we exhibit would not only result in our being fired but potential lawsuits and both the employed and the companies who employ us should be well aware of that.”

The charter’s lead-in states the guidelines “go beyond the legal requirements, in order to ensure that fashion models are always provided with proper working conditions.” In addition it asks the whole industry to follow suit. “Other brands were asked,” James says, “They said no. So if things go wrong in those places they are leaving themselves open. So I hope eventually they will join as there is strength in numbers. But for now they are not getting a pass from my Instagram account…”

Some important bullet points from the charter:

–The brands commit to ban size 32 for women and size 42 for men (French measurement) from their casting requirments, and will thereby require casting agencies to present women and men models who are respectively size 34 or over, and 44 or over
(Size 32 is a 00 in the US)
– Models must explicitly accept changes in appearance, nudity or semi-nudity
– Models must have access to food and drinks that comply with dietary requirements
– The brands must require the agencies to ensure that the contract with the models (or his/her agency) enables her/him to be paid within the timeframe require by law
– The brands must not hire models under the age of 16 to participate in shows and shootings representing an adult
– Models between 16 and 18 years old are not allowed to work between 10pm and 6am
– Nudity or semi-nudity for models under 18 is only allowed through an agreement signed by both the model and her/his legal representative
– From the first selection interview to the last performance, the model must have the possibility of making a direct complaint in the case of a dispute with a modeling agency, a casting director or a brand employee
– The presence of at least one representative of the brand during in-house castings is compulsory

Though only strict guidelines for the brands under the umbrella of Kering and LVMH, the charter is the latest in measures the industry has taken to protect its models. This includes France’s “Skinny Model” law passed in 2015 requiring a BMI of 18 or over. In 2013 Israel banned overly-thin models.

You can read the entire charter below:

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