New legislation signed by the governor of New York this week is set to increase protections for young models and restrict the use of teenagers at New York Fashion Week. This new law will implement the same protections for young models as children who act, dance and play music professionally. This is sure to have a significant impact on the casting of models for the next New York Fashion Week, in February.
This increased regulation could motivate designers to use older models. This bill requires employers to provide nurses for the young models and places limits on how many hours a young model can work , how late they can work and how often they can be used.
Professional models usually start their career at 14 and in some cases models have entered the industry at the age of 12. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has suggested that its members should set a minimum age of 16 for runway models.
Designers that violate these laws face fines starting at $1,000 for the first violation and up to $3,000 for the third. After that, they can lose the privilege to employ child models.
Susan Scafidi, the academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University, stated that in terms of labor law and the fashion industry, “I’d argue that it’s one of the biggest developments in a century, bringing a whole new group under legal protection.”
Models are in a unique working environment because they are hired as independent contractors and therefore do not get the standard protections of traditional employees. “They are a very vulnerable population in a very unregulated market,” said Scafidi.
This new law was sponsored by two Democratic state senators and supported by the Model Alliance, which promotes better working conditions in the US modeling industry.