Sara Ziff is a woman on a mission. A former model turned documentary filmmaker, the 28-year-old is now working with Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute to establish a model alliance in the hopes of regulating the industry and providing support and better working conditions for models.
While Ziff has not yet started recruiting models to join what will be called The Model Alliance, the Fashion Law Institute is setting up a clinic in order to speak directly to models to find out what the industry’s most pressing problems are. Ziff told WWD that The Model Alliance won’t be a union, but rather a regulatory agency that works with existing organizations to make sure that certain standards are enforced.
“The modeling industry is essentially unregulated. As independent contractors, models don’t have the same basic workplace protection as a lot of other industries do. They don’t have workmen’s compensation. They often don’t have access to affordable health coverage. There are no provisions for rest and meal breaks [during work hours]. There is little recourse for issues of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. And a lot of modeling agencies have a huge amount of power over international girls because they sponsor their visas.”
Ziff, whose documentary Picture Me chronicles five years in the lives of a group of models, also spent New York Fashion Week backstage interviewing models, writers, and well-known industry types about body image, working conditions, diversity, and their experience with modeling as a whole. Her interview with a model who ate cotton balls in order to stay slim is particularly eye-opening.
New Alliance Aims to Protect Models [WWD, Subscription Required.]
Sara Ziff’s ‘Picture Me’ Reveals The Dark Side Of Modeling [Styleite]
WATCH: Models Eat Cotton Balls, Rice Cakes To Stay Thin [Styleite]