Less than three hours after Jezebel published its post about Marc Jacobs overworking minors and paying his models in trade (except when they’re in France, where that is illegal), his brand issued a (rather disheartening) response via Twitter.
Wow. Sauers tweeted back:
What’s the point of the CFDA setting forth guidelines when a member of its Board of Directors refuses to abide by them? And while it is technically legal for models to get paid in trade, that does not make it right. As Sauers made note of in her original post, models are typically considered independent contractors which means employers do not need to abide by employment law when dealing with them. The operative word here is “need”. Just because they don’t need to do things like, you know, pay them in something other than clothes, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
The company’s official response of “if they don’t want to work with us, they don’t have to” only underscores the issue. It’s a vicious cycle. Young models are pressured into accepting unfair (and often unlawful) working conditions because bookers and agents tell them that’s the only way they will get work. Bookers and agents tell them this because designers like Jacobs — who very well may be the most influential designer in America — continue to only hire girls that will accept these conditions. Until Jacobs decides to treat his employees (which is what these models are) fairly, this issue will perpetuate.