Tell us about your role within the fashion and modeling industry both at The Industry Model Management and Pier 59 Studios.
I am the creator and owner of the Industry Model Mgmt.
It is a high-end boutique women’s agency based in New York and Los Angeles with the mission of discovering exceptional new talent who will be successful working in still and motion. By maintaining a select roster, The Industry Model Mgmt is able to devote a personalized level of service to each talent it represents.
Pier 59 Studios, under the umbrella of the Art & Fashion Group Company (also owned by myself), are the studios of choice among the highest caliber fashion and advertising clients in the world. The Industry Model Mgmt benefits from the immense and deep relationships with the top Fashion houses and Advertisers of Pier59 Studios, its cutting edge media technologies and wide resources in the field of the highest level of productions. This collaboration and its inspiring culture that embraces creativity, art and beauty, gives The Industry Model Mgmt a distinct advantage over the competitors.
What caused you to create the Model’s Bill of Rights?
I had long been watching the modeling industry’s blatant disregard for the rules, for the law, and knew that something needed to change. A model that I represent, Simone Aptekman, also brought the issue to my attention. As she told with iHeart Radio, 106.7 Lite fm WLTW-FM: “Whenever I was around other models, I would hear other girls talk about financial duress – their agencies would withhold payment for sometimes as long as 240 days – and other issues. In an effort to learn more, I hosted a symposium at my apartment with about 15 models to provide an open forum for us to air grievances and to provide support. An overwhelming theme was the financial and legal pressure that was placed on them by their agencies – specifically around timely payment for jobs, and threats about their visas which made the girls feel beholden to their agencies.”
After hearing this, and seeing it for myself first hand in the industry, I knew that I could no longer just sit back and let this continue. I had to do something to demand that the other agencies and the other brands in the fashion industry clean up their act. So I drafted the Model’s Bill of Rights to ensure that every model everywhere knew what he or she was entitled to.
What do you see as the biggest issues that models face today?
The way that models are treated is way too often simply disgraceful. In an industry that has grown exponentially over the past 30 years but entirely unregulated. Immigration, timely payment, shooting environments that are safe and free of harassment are all top issues within the industry.
How can agencies and brands help combat these problems?
Education is paramount. The agencies need to empower their models by informing them of their rights, and when they fail to do this, the models are put at significant risk. Further, the brands and agencies both need to take responsibility and start to play by the rules. They need to pay the models on time, and not withhold compensation so that these models can live and work freely without concerns over how they will pay their bills. They need to ensure that the studios where they are shooting are safe, up to code, and in locations where the models feel comfortable. In short, they need to start playing by the rules.
What are you specifically doing to help?
I created the Model’s Bill of Rights to ensure the models are working in safe Studios and Location environments, are free from harassment, do not receive legal pressure from their agencies specifically surrounding their work visas, that Immigration Laws are respected in the interest of the Models and, fundamentally, that they are paid in a fair and timely manner, without unjustified overcharges.
At my “The Industry Model Management”, I have instituted a rule of paying models within 60 days of their invoiced work, and if a client pays before 60 days, within five working days, we will turnaround the payment to the Model. We don’t sit on money that belongs to Models, and use as cash flow, like other Agencies do. Those are practices that should be implemented throughout the entire industry.
We want to educate these young Models so that they feel empowered and confident to be in charge of their career. At The Industry Model Management we offer written information, we spend time with each model ensuring that they understand their rights, that they are safe, that they are educated on what they’re allowed to do legally. We also offer seminars for the models and their caregivers to help ensure that everyone is aligned and knows the rules so that they’re not taken advantage of in any way.
For me, empowering the Models means largely that the Agencies need to pay the models regularly and on time for jobs performed, and not unjustly withhold compensation with delays and indiscriminate overcharges, so that Models can live and work freely without concerns over how they will sustain themselves and pay their bills.
What’s next for the industry?
I think that it will take time for the industry to become more regulated, but as more and more models learn their basic rights they will start to demand change. That is when the fashion industry will truly have to reform.