By Jessica Frost
News broke today that mighty fashion conglomerates LVMH and Kering have joined forces in banning their brands from hiring model that are underweight and underage. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘who the fuck are LVMH and Kering?’, well, the two own a bunch of smaller brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Celine, Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent and more.
The two luxury corporations have announced a charter that protects the health, well-being (both physical and mental) and the working conditions of the models that work for them. This means that they will no longer hire female models who are under a size 2 (Au 6 and Fr 34) or any model under the age of 16 for shows or fashion shoots. The new rules also mean that models aged 16-18 years are not permitted to work between the hours of 10pm-6am and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian whilst working. The brands have also said that going forward, they will only work with models who have a medical certificate that guarantees they are in healthy condition and they will have doctors and psychologists on hand and available to the models they hire.
In a statement, François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering, said “Respecting the dignity of all women has always been both a personal commitment for me and a priority for Kering.”
“We have the responsibility of building new standards for fashion and we hope to be followed by other players in our sector,” echoed the LVMH board of directors.
The move comes after a year full of controversy in the industry including James Scully’s eye-opening account of the treatment of models at a Balenciaga casting , a Calvin Klein ad being banned for using a model who looked underage and the story of Ulrikke Louise Lahn Høyer, a model who was flown to Japan for the Louis Vuitton Cruise show, told to only drink water for 24hrs to try to lose weight and who was then swiftly fired by the brand for being too fat.
It echoes the new law passed by the French government that similarly bans the use of models that are too thin and who cannot produce a medical certificate. If broken, offenders face huge fines and the potential of spending 6 months in jail.
The new rules from LVMH and Kering go into effect immediately and the industry has had a lot to say about them in the short time since the announcement.
Many are celebrating the move by the powerhouse brands and congratulating their efforts toward building a healthier, happier and more inclusive industry. It is being viewed as the paving of a path toward an accepting industry where extremely thin women aren’t being portrayed as the hero and most hope it means we’ll see more plus size models on the runway.
Others fear that the new rules are a form of body shaming models who are naturally thing and are healthily living as a size 0 or 1. They argue that by pushing the agenda of plus size models, the industry is just championing another form of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Whether you think it’s a bad move or not, you can’t argue that focusing on working conditions for models and caring for their mental health is a bad thing. Sure, there probably shouldn’t be a quantitative figure on the ban and rather a ban of models who are unhealthy no matter what the number on their size label says. But it’s great to see such influential brands making such big moves and hopefully others begin to follow suit in creating an industry that is safe and prosperous for models or all healthy shapes and sizes.