Underage Models at New York Fashion Week
If you’re over 30 in the fashion world, you might as well be six-feet-under. No one wants a middle-aged woman showing off his/her newest line. Every year, younger models are employed by the fashion industry. This year, models who are still referred to as “tweens” by the mainstream community are strutting their stuff at Bryant Park.
Two 14-year-old models walked down Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2012 runway on Sunday night, one of the biggest shows of New York Fashion Week (NYFW). There were around 50 models who walked in his show, so two is a relatively small night; but according to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Jacobs broke the rules.
The CFDA instituted new health initiative guidelines that ban girls under the age of 16 from walking the runway. These girls must be ID’d before entering the NYFW tents. Jacobs is a proud member of the CFDA and must know about these guidelines. He chose to bend the rules for fashion.
“Until Mr. Jacobs’s show on Monday, it seemed that most designers were using models who were at least 16,” the New York Times reported. “But Mr. Jacobs said flatly after his show that he would not follow the council’s recommendation.”
Jacobs is known for his NYFW shows. Only the biggest celebrities and designers get an invite. Those who sit front row have the most coveted ticket in the world. If anyone is going to ignore the rules, it is Jacobs.
“I do the show the way I think it should be and not the way somebody tells me it should be,” Jacobs told the New York Times. “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.”
His attitude: I do what I want.
Ethics aside, Jacobs has a point. Although it is morally questionable to let young girls model, personal agency and willingness does play a part in whether or not it is acceptable.
The youngest model in his show, Thairine Garcia from Brazil, is being called the “hot new thing” on the blogosphere. This 14-year-old model is represented by Ford Model Agency. Ford is taking a lot of heat from the CFDA and beyond about their promotion of underage models.
The CEO of the CFDA weighed in on the issue, “We’re disappointed in Ford because they committed not to send models under 16, but that’s their choice, it’s their business. It’s a business decision.”
This “hands off” attitude of the industry may be good for business, but this is an ethics issue. Jacobs blames the models and the CFDA blames Ford — but banning models must be a collective decision that is followed. We will have to wait until the next NYFW in September 2012 to see if any progress has been made on the issue.