(In paragraphs 7 and 8, corrects attribution of quotes to
"former model and fashion writer Jenna Sauers" instead of "Susan
Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at New York's
By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK Feb 6 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
Model Sara Ziff, 29, who has worked since she was 14,
founded the nonprofit Model Alliance because she said she has
seen the 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 former model and fashion writer Jenna Sauers.
"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 Sauers, who
is on the board of directors for the Model Alliance.
Ziff and Sauers said some U.S.-based models had complained
about being told to lose weight, had suffered anxiety or
depression and been sexually harassed.
"Many top designers pay their models in clothes-not cash.
This doesn't have to be the case. We can do better. And we can
start by giving models a voice in their work. This is a new
frontier of women's rights, and workers' rights," Ziff said.
Some 90 designers are due to show their collections for
fall/winter 2012 at New York Fashion Week to buyers, media and
celebrities, with dozens more showing at other venues around the
city to coincide with the semi-annual event.
Fashion Week in New York is followed by events in London,
Paris and Milan.
(Editing by Todd Eastham)