In a groundbreaking move, several luxury fashion brands, including Gucci, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and Saint Laurent, have recently pledged to stop using models under the age of 18 to represent adults on both the catwalk and in advertising campaigns. The French fashion group Kering, the parent company that owns these renowned luxury brands, made this significant decision. François-Henri Pinault, the Chairman and CEO of Kering, highlighted the importance of their commitment, stating that the company is keenly aware of the impact of their images on younger generations and wants to lead the luxury sector towards adopting best practices.
A Welcomed Change for the Industry and Models
Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer at Kering, pointed out that the physiological and psychological maturity of models aged over 18 is more appropriate for the fast-paced and demanding nature of the fashion industry. This shift in approach has been widely embraced by the campaign group Model Alliance, which has been advocating for an end to the use of under-18 models in the fashion world. Founder Sara Ziff praised the decision, emphasizing that it represents a positive step towards eliminating the immense pressure models face to maintain an adolescent physique and resort to extreme measures to lose weight.
The Need for Effective Enforcement
However, while the fashion industry celebrates this much-needed change, some critics have raised concerns about the lack of an enforcement mechanism in Kering’s pledge. Sara Ziff, from Model Alliance, pointed out that without proper enforcement, the policy may risk being mere lip service to critical issues that have long plagued the industry. To ensure the policy’s effectiveness, stakeholders must actively monitor and enforce compliance with these new guidelines. Open dialogue with models, designers, and other industry stakeholders is crucial to creating a culture of accountability and promoting lasting change.
A Broader Commitment for Models: Ethical Practices
Kering’s decision is part of a broader trend in the fashion industry, where brands are increasingly making commitments to become more ethical in their working practices. In 2017, France took a significant step forward by banning unhealthily thin models, aiming to address issues related to “unrealistic body images” and eating disorders. Now, the fashion industry requires models to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall health and BMI within a healthy range before they can work. This move prioritizes models’ well-being and health while ensuring that dangerous beauty standards are no longer perpetuated.
A Call for the Fashion Industry to Lead by Example
With Kering leading the way, we hope that other luxury brands and fashion houses will follow suit. This shift is essential to protect young models from the harmful effects of an industry that has historically promoted unrealistic and damaging beauty ideals. By recognizing the significance of maturity and age in the fashion world, brands can set an example and create a more inclusive, healthier environment for aspiring models.
Kering’s commitment to stop using under-18 models is a remarkable development for the fashion industry. By acknowledging the influence their images have on younger generations and the need to promote healthier body standards, they are taking a crucial step in the right direction. However, to turn this promise into tangible change, the industry must ensure proper enforcement and engagement with all stakeholders. The fashion world holds tremendous power to shape cultural norms, and by embracing ethical practices, it can pave the way for a more inclusive and positive environment for aspiring models and fashion enthusiasts alike. Let us hope that this transformative pledge marks the beginning of a new era in the fashion industry, where well-being and empowerment take center stage.