Fashion Giants LVMH & Kering Join Forces Creating A Charter To Protect Models’ Wellbeing

With the increased amount of scrutiny on the fashion and beauty industry over the past few years, especially when it comes to diversity on the runways of the biggest fashion week events around the world, it’s no surprise we’re starting to see disruption of norms from a number of different areas that seek to shift standards to be more inclusive and realistic.

A lot of the change should be credited to the way influencers are utilizing digital media spaces to raise their voice and create opportunities for themselves that perhaps didn’t exist before. Some kudos should also be given to bigger brands and companies that recognize the harm they perpetuate by continuing narrow beauty standards that are unrealistic. In countries like Israel, the UK, France and Italy, we’re even seeing the government work in partnership with fashion industry execs to ensure the models appearing on runways and in advertising images are much more diverse and portray healthy standards.

Recently, two major fashion conglomerates have joined forces to create a charter that declares their intentions to be part of the change happening. LVMH and Kering publicly announced their new guidelines that were created to protect the wellbeing of models who will end up working for the brands under their respective company umbrellas, and will no doubt have a major trickle down effect to other labels and designers.

As Vogue.uk reports, “the charter will be implemented across all of their brands as of the spring/summer 2018 show season, which starts today, ‘paying particular attention to ensuring good working conditions’.” A monitoring committee, made up of representatives of the brands, agencies and models, will meet each year (once every six months for the first year).

“Having always cared for the well-being of models, LVMH and Kering feel that they have a specific responsibility, as leaders in the industry, to go one step further with their brands. This charter, which is applicable worldwide, reflects high standards of integrity, responsibility and respect for those concerned,” said a press statement about the charter.

On top of paying particular attention to ensuring good working conditions for models, it is structured around several major commitments:
•Brands of both groups commit to working solely with models able to present a valid medical certificate, attesting to their good health and ability to work, obtained less than six months before the shooting or the fashion show.
•All fashion brands belonging to LVMH and Kering commit to banning size 32 for women and size 42 for men (French measurement) from their casting requirements. Casting agencies will be required to present female and male models who are size 34 or over, and size 44 or over, respectively. To further ensure the care of models, it will be incumbent upon the brands to put a dedicated psychologist/therapist at their disposal during their working time.
•Models below the age of 16 must not be hired by brands to take part in shows or shootings representing an adult.
•16 to 18 year-old models are subject to specific rules:
-They are not permitted to work between 10pm and 6am
-The presence of a chaperon/guardian—who can be one of the model’s parents—appointed by their agency is mandatory for models aged 16 to 18, and any model under the age of 18 must be housed in the same accommodation as their chaperon/guardian.
-The charter requires brands to ask agencies to ensure that models meet their school attendance obligations.
•Models must have the possibility of making a direct complaint in the case of a dispute with a modeling agency, a casting director or a brand (e.g. through the designation of a contact person or the setting up of a hotline)

Executives from both LVMH and Kering also released a statement about the charter.

“Respecting the dignity of all women has always been both a personal commitment for me and a priority for Kering as a group. Through the establishment of this charter and our commitment to abide by its terms, we are once again manifesting the importance of this core value in a very concrete manner. We hope to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide,” said Francois-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chairman and CEO.

“As the leader in the luxury sector, we believe it is our role to be at the forefront of this initiative. We have the responsibility of building new standards for fashion and we hope to be followed by other players in our sector,” said Antoine Arnault, member of LVMH Board of Directors.

One of the women who had a hand in helping create this charter was Vogue UK’s new contributing casting director, Ashley Brokaw, who is a huge champion of seeing more diversity on the runway. She has seen first hand the shift in fashion industry standards and expressed how exciting it is.

“There are endless possibilities now. There are very few rules. We used to work within certain parameters for shows and for advertising, but I feel that all that’s gone out the window,” she said.

She also believes diversity is no longer just a “trend”, and it is not going away any time soon. It is becoming less and less of a “box to be ticked”. Ashley has worked with luxury brand coach and cast transgender model and actress Hari Nef and model and female empowerment advocate Adwoa Aboah as representatives of the new standards emerging.

With non-white models still being a minority on the runways of the four major Fashion Week events, it’s also important to see emerging faces such as Dominican model Lineisy Montero and Asian-Australian Fernanda Ly being hired to work for high-fashion labels such as Prada and Louis Vuitton respectively.

Ashley says these new standards, along with the implementation of the Kering & LVMH charter is going to make the industry feel different, not just look different.

“I do know designers are wanting to see bigger girls,” she said, adding that skinny girls aren’t necessarily going to disappear, but the accord will help open the doors for a wider range of sizes, especially among the luxury brands owned by both conglomerates.

We eagerly await the Spring/Summer 2018 season Fashion Week events and can’t wait to see even more diversity becoming the norm throughout the industry. Well done Kering and LVMH for taking a stand to help further some much-needed change.

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