The Model Alliance: Fighting for Labor Rights in the Fashion Industry

By Elisabeth Schiffbauer [April 26th, 2013] 

Model Alliance

The Model Alliance is a “growing network of models and industry leaders dedicated to improving working conditions in the American fashion industry.” The Model Alliance works to give models in the industry a voice.

Started by models Sara Ziff and Jenna Sauers, the organization has gained worldwide recognition for its efforts in changing workplace treatment and ethical standards for models in the fashion industry.

The percentage of models with “high profile,” “lucrative” careers “misrepresent the reality for most working models, who are young, mostly female, and uniquely vulnerable,” says Ziff.

While fortunate in her career, Sara Ziff established The Model Alliance after seeing firsthand how the industry “disregards child labor law, lacks financial transparency, encourages eating disorders, and blindly tolerates sexual abuse in the workplace.”

The Model Alliance has five primary goals to help improve the professional standards for models. These are to: (1) provide a grievance and enforcement system for issues of sexual harassment; (2) ensure that existing child labor laws are enforced; (3) promote greater financial transparency; (4) provide access to affordable health care; and (5) draft a code of conduct that sets industry-wide standards for castings, shoots, and shows.

Working towards these goals, The Model Alliance produced at their bi-annual meeting a draft of the “Models’ Bill of Rights,” focusing and outlining models’ rights to professionalism, transparent accounting practices, career control, negotiable commissions, and specific rights for models under 18. For the complete bill, visit http://modelalliance.org/models-bill-of-rights.

In addition to fighting for models’ rights, The Model Alliance provides a Mentorship Program, pairing established models with up and coming talent, encouraging communication, and creating relationships agencies. Working with AFL-CIO unions the American Guild of Musical Artists and Actors’ Equity, The Model Alliance provides a free and discreet support line, allowing models to seek and report sexual harassment and abuse problems.

The mistreatment of models in the workplace has far-reaching political and socio-economic implications for our society than many might realize. “How the industry treats its models influences the ideal presented in magazines, and these images have a powerful effect on women in general,” says Ziff.

The Model Alliance and the Models’ Bill of Rights may well be the initiation of a new organized labor movement, working to create new law and change the treatment of individuals in the fashion industry.

Visit http://modelalliance.org/ to learn more about The Model Alliance. 

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