The New York Times highlights Model Alliance’s RESPECT Program!

NYT: Model Alliance’s RESPECT Program offers “set of comprehensive industry standards developed by models to govern behaviors, rights, payment and recourse, as well as a detailed list of consequences and processes…”

Model Alliance latest to deploy WSR model in fight for rights and dignity in the workplace; RESPECT Program developed in conjunction with CIW, Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network

As the #MeToo movement continues to make waves across the country, the Model Alliance is leading the fight to give fashion models a real voice at work.  Aiming “to promote fair treatment, equal opportunity, and more sustainable practices in the fashion industry, from the runway to the factory floor,” the Model Alliance has become the latest worker organization to adopt the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model in its efforts to win dignity and respect for its members.  And just last week, their efforts caught the attention of the fashion industry’s hometown paper, the New York Times.  

Sexual harassment and assault have plagued the fashion industry for decades, in large part because – until now – perpetrators have been able to commit such violations with impunity.  But that is about to change.  Just this past May, the Model Alliance launched the RESPECT Program, a legally-binding agreement to protect models from sexual violence at work.  It offers a first-of-its kind, enforceable Code of Conduct for the fashion industry, with mandatory consequences for brands, modeling agencies, photographers, and others who violate the terms of the Code.  If that all sounds familiar to you as a frequent reader of this site – it should!  The RESPECT Program draws from the successful model of the Fair Food Program in US agriculture, and was developed in partnership with the CIW and the new Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network.

Last week, the New York Times ran an excellent, feature-length article that exposed the fashion industry’s ugly history of sexual abuse and humiliation of its workers, and lifted up the Model Alliance’s RESPECT Program as the most comprehensive solution to the industry’s longstanding ills.  Today, we congratulate the Model Alliance for this well-earned attention, and bring you the Alliance’s own web post on the Times report in its entirety (below).  And in the months ahead, we will continue to follow the Model Alliance’s campaign as they seek adoption of the RESPECT Program by fashion industry leaders:

As sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation persist, The Times features RESPECT as the solution models support to foster genuine, industrywide accountability.

In “Modeling in the #TimesUp Era,” Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times documents the pervasive, ongoing problem of sexual harassment and assault of models. She simultaneously outlines the inadequacies and inconsistencies of the industry’s current patchwork of measures to address predatory behavior.

To address the issues highlighted in this article, the Model Alliance has developed the RESPECT Program, described in The Times story as, “a set of comprehensive industry standards developed by models to govern behaviors, rights, payment and recourse, as well as a detailed list of consequences and processes.” RESPECT was introduced in May and has the support of hundreds of models, including Gisele Bündchen, Karen Elson, Edie Campbell, Doutzen Kroes and other leading names.

Some companies have also made initial steps in this area, but their programs have not gotten traction and problems persist. Models “would be unlikely to complain to a brand” given the “continuing anxiety around what is not acceptable in fashion.” Brands continue to use stylist Karl Templer, for example, accused of intrusive physical approaches with models. And while Conde Nast is currently pushing its “18+ initiative,” IMG and LVMH are not aligned.

Condé Nast, LVMH and Kering have “established their own codes of conduct …. and implemented hotlines to report violations,” but Friedman writes, “there have been no calls to those hotlines.” The Model Alliance, on the other hand, has “received over 100 calls between October 2017 and July 2018 reporting sexual harassment and assault– an increase of 40 times over the year before.”

Supermodels and new faces alike speak out in The Times article to acknowledge ongoing abuses and fears of retaliation. Top model Teddy Quinlivan was dropped by her agency, after she went public with her experience of sexual assault and complained to her agents about the perpetrator. Sarah Gant and another model describe Kevin Fitzpatrick, the executive director of their then-agency, Silent, bringing them to a nightclub, pressuring them to drink alcohol, and making unwanted advances.

Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff concludes, “We don’t have to wait for governments to get involved,” adding, “We can create a better world through contract law.”

Read the full article here and please amplify our efforts to create a safer, fairer and more accountable fashion industry. It’s #Time4RESPECT!