Marc Jacobs is in the hot seat right now. Yesterday Jezebel ran a piece called “Marc Jacobs Doesn’t Pay His Models, Says Model.” This comes on the heels of news that the modeling industry is rife with employee rights’ abuse, especially for underage models. This clearly shows that this is a widespread practice.
The model who claimed she wasn’t paid by Marc Jacobs is Hailey Hasbrook, a 17-year-old from Oregon, who kept a blog in which she detailed her experiences working during New York Fashion Week last month. She also spoke about briefly in an interview with WWD. According to Hasbrook, she was worked past the amount of hours underage models are permitted to work and was not paid for the 20 some hours she spent at Jacobs’ studio doing “looks.” She ended up walking in his shows but was paid in trade, meaning she got some clothes and accessories.
This followed news that Jacobs hired two underage models for NYFW despite the fact that he is a member of the CFDA–the organization that has put forth pretty clear guidelines encouraging its members not to use models under the age of 16. “If their parents are willing to let them do a show, I don’t see any reason that it should be me who tells them that they can’t,” Jacobs told the New York Times. With the accusation by Hasbrook, he also tweeted at Jezebel, Huffington Post, and writers Jenna Sauers and Ellie Krupnick, MarcJacobsIntl wrote, “models are paid in trade. If they don’t want to work w/ us, they don’t have to.”
It is actions like these that inspired Sara Ziff, 29, who has worked as a model since she was 14, to found the nonprofit Model Alliance. She said she has seen the industry disregard child labor laws, evade financial transparency and tolerate sexual abuse in the workplace. The alliance has 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. “So many young girls get into this industry and they have no one to protect them and having this model alliance will help girls realize they have the power, they can say no to things that make them feel uncomfortable,” said Australian “plus-size” model Robyn Lawley. Models getting compensated in clothes instead of a cash was another of the main reasons for forming the alliance. “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 former model Sauers.