NEW YORK – Former fashion models who were abused by Harvey Weinstein this week joined a rally in New York calling for better protection for creative workers in the fashion industry. Fashion model advocate group, the Model Alliance, joined models Kaja Sokola and Dominique Huett, both of whom were among models abused by Weinstein. They are backing a new bill that would regulate predatory management agencies that “currently operate without oversight in the fashion industry.”
The group stood at Lincoln Center, the former home of NY Fashion Week, and the current site of the New York Film Festival where She Said – the film adaptation of the New York Times investigation into Weinstein – is premiering this week.
The group was joined by the Freelancers’ Union and bill sponsor Senator Brad Hoylman. The bill has also received an endorsement from NYC Comptroller Brad Lander. “The existing lack of regulation leaves a largely young, female, immigrant workforce especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation,” the Model Alliance said in a statement.
It is claimed by proponents of the new bill that basic labour protections evade the creative workforce behind the fashion industry, including models, influencers, stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and other creative artists.
They are thus calling for the enactment of The Fashion Workers Act, which passed the Senate Labor Committee before the State Legislative session ended earlier this year. This, it is claimed, would close this loophole and provide a regulatory framework for management agencies, requiring them to act in the interests of the talent they represent.
Said Sara Ziff, founder and executive director of the Model Alliance: “Five years after the New York Times and others exposed abusers like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and Bill Cosby who used modeling agencies to prey on young girls, it’s unacceptable that the creative workforce behind the US$2.5 trillion global fashion industry still lacks basic protections. Economic exploitation is directly tied to sexual abuse, and we can’t put an end to one without addressing the other. The Model Alliance was proud to help pass the Adult Survivors Act to right the wrongs of the past by allowing survivors to seek justice in the courts no matter how long ago the abuse happened. But our work isn’t done: we need the Fashion Workers Act now to help prevent the abuses that made the Adult Survivors Act necessary in the first place.”
Added model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez: “In the fashion industry, my experiences with men abusing their power over me are unfortunately not unique. These kinds of abuses happen all the time in an industry without any rules or regulations and with a workforce that is largely made up of young, immigrant women working in debt to their management agencies. While I’m so happy survivors will have a second chance at justice when the Adult Survivors Act opens up its look-back window soon, we also need lawmakers to pass the Fashion Workers Act next session to ensure the abuses I endured never happen again.”