The working conditions of London Fashion Week

Working amongst makeup artists, designers and talent agents is every model’s dream come true. And the pinnacle of all of this activity occurs in February and September when London showcases the very best in recent designs during London Fashion Week. But what goes on behind the curtain to make sure models are safe and treated well? And even more importantly, are models entitled to compensation in the event of a mishap? Read on to find out.

Until recently, the fashion industry has been largely self regulated, meaning that designers were the ones in charge and the models were left to fend for themselves. This often resulted in low wages, long hours and intense demands. However, in 2010 the trade union Equity, in collaboration with the Association of Model Agents and the British Fashion Council drafted a new set of guidelines, known as the Models Programme, to establish better working conditions for the models that make the shows happen.

Amongst these new guidelines were the requirement that models be provided with food and drink backstage and have a minimum resting period for each show. The new agreement also enforces that models be granted privacy while changing outfits between walks. And because of the intense pressure of working London Fashion Week, models under the age of 16 are not permitted.

The Models Programme also ensures that London Fashion Week is an enriching experience for the careers of those models that choose to participate. Equity is a proponent of providing access to broader national and international opportunities as well as ensuring that footage and photos from the show are only used for editorial reasons.

One area that isn’t covered by the agreement is a model’s rights in the event of an accident backstage or on the catwalk. Most independent contractors think that they have no recourse for compensation when an accident happens, but this is not entirely true. In the event that the accident was not wrought by the model’s own doing, the person responsible for the event may be held liable to provide compensation.

The fashion industry continues to evolve, and these changes make for a safer, more secure work environment for everyone involved.