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It’s about time guys!

Posted on Sept 6, 2017 by Shyam Chidamber

This is Fashion week in New York City – perhaps the most important week in the $2.4 trillion fashion industry. New designers will be found, deals and careers made in between fashion shows and all the hoopla that surrounds haute couture, super models and big money.

The latest buzz however is about the joint statement issued by LVMH and Kering – the two leaders in the fashion business that might be a signal that things are finally changing in this industry that seems culturally stuck in the Mad Men era. Both fashion houses have decided that they will no longer hire girls under the age of 16 to showcase their clothing and never hire women who are the legendary “size 0” – the impossibly pencil thin models who have been the predominant ever since Twiggy became a super model in the 1960s. Additional changes to the work life conditions for all the women who work in the fashion industry have also been promised.

Antoine Arnault the CEO of LVMH (who own brands like Christian Dior, Givenchy, Pucci and Marc Jacobs) writes on their website that “the well-being of models is of great importance to us. As a leader in the luxury sector, we have the responsibility of building new standards for fashion models…” To which our reaction is “it’s about time guys!” The fashion business has enormous cultural and social influence on the world at large and in uniquely affecting the self-image of young people – particularly teenage girls. Earlier this year French advertiser groups refused to publish ads from a major fashion brand because they featured young women in degrading poses. This was right on the heels of the seamy under belly of working life in the fashion world coming to public light – when a video showing 150 models cramped in a staircase went viral. Yet major fashion giants have been slow to change; and late to the party where role models for woman are more multi-dimensional than ever before and standards of beauty have moved far ahead of the industry’s 50s and 60s mind set. We certainly hope that this is more than a Fashion Week PR stunt and the industry has finally changed. In which case, we wholeheartedly applaud it.

This is a classic case of public sentiment, the media, suppliers and partners forcing change in business practices of fashion houses. It is a small but important victory for stakeholder capitalism.

Original Story: “Fashion Giants LVMH and Kering Ban Size Zero Models” Reuters, Sept 6, 2017

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