Kering, the parent company of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen, is attempting to address one of the largest problems in the fashion industry. On May 15, François-Henri Pinault, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, made an announcement on Kering’s website that, by 2020, they will no longer hire models under 18-years-old.
“We believe that we have a responsibility to put forward the best possible practices in the luxury sector,” he says. “We hope to create a movement that will encourage others to follow suit.”
The problem with how underage models are treated in fashion has been chronicled over the years through documentaries, confessional YouTube videos, memoirs, and articles. Former model Sara Ziff even started The Model Alliance in 2014 as a way to address these issues and be a safe space for young models to come forward about abuse.
Often, women are recruited as young as age 13 and thrust into a world where they’re made to live on their own in an unknown city with strangers. They’re subjected to constant scrutiny of their looks and weight and are expected to maintain the same size from a young age into adulthood. The Model Alliance made a statement about the importance of Kering’s new policy, but noted that it is not enough.
“@KeringGroup’s pledge to no longer hire models under 18-years-old is a positive step towards eliminating the intense pressure models currently face to maintain an adolescent physique and to go to extremes to lose weight,” they wrote. However, they noted that “sorely missing from @KeringGroup’s pledge is a commitment to, and mechanism for, actual enforcement of this new purported ‘standard.'”
.@KeringGroup’s pledge to no longer hire models under 18-years-old is a positive step towards eliminating the intense pressure models currently face to maintain an adolescent physique and to go to extremes to lose weight. However (1/7)
— Model Alliance (@ModelAllianceNY) May 15, 2019
While there have been several laws put into place that are supposed to protect young models from abuse in the workplace (like offering breaks and private places to change), there needs to be corporate responsibility as well.
We have reached out to Kering about their plans to enforce this new policy, and will update this piece if/when we hear back.