Models form rights group ahead of New York Fashion Week
By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fashion models in the United States launched a rights group on Monday ahead of New York Fashion Week to seek workplace standards including backstage privacy to stop unauthorized nude photos and a program to provide confidential advice on dealing with sexual harassment.
Model Sara Ziff, 29, ho has worked since she was 14, founded the nonprofit Model Alliance because she said she has seen the fashion industry disregard child labor laws, evade financial transparency and tolerate sexual abuse in the workplace.
"Most models start their adult careers as minors and they labor in an unregulated business knowing that they are highly replaceable," Ziff said in a statement.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) said it had offered Ziff advice in starting the group. "Change comes from action and the Model Alliance can be a catalyst for change," said CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb.
Designer Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, is working with the alliance during Fashion Week, a high-profile global fashion event which starts on Thursday, to implement a rule that clears the backstage area of photographers and non-essential staff when models have to change clothes.
The alliance has also produced a draft bill of rights to empower models to demand fair treatment and is establishing a confidential service offering advice on how to deal with sexual harassment and abuse.
"The idea of models organizing may seem frivolous or, worse, downright funny - models are certainly not the people you picture when you think of child labor or bad working conditions," said Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at New York's Fordham University.
"There's nothing funny about a work force that is overwhelmingly young, female and impoverished, working for some of fashion's wealthiest, most powerful brands," said Scafidi, who is on the board of directors for the Model Alliance. Continued...