The Model Alliance Announces the Fashion Workers Act, a New Pro-Labor Bill to Protect Models and Other Industry Creatives


At noon today, on the steps of Lincoln Center, the former home of New York Fashion Week, Sara Ziff of the Model Alliance joined New York State Senator Brad Hoylman and the models Karen Elson and Teddy Quinlivan, among others, to announce the Fashion Workers Act. The proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Hoylman and New York State Assembly Member Karines Reyes, would regulate management agencies and provide labor protection not only for models, but also hair and makeup artists, stylists, influencers, and other behind-the-scenes creatives.

“The creative workforce behind [fashion’s] success is totally unprotected,” Ziff said in her opening statement. “This Bill will close the loophole through which management companies escape accountability and it will require those companies to pay models and creatives within 45 days, provide models and creatives with copies of contracts and agreements, and discontinue predatory practices such as mystery fees, overcharging for services, [and] cramming 10 models in one apartment and charging them well above the market rent.”

Models Karen Elson and Teddy Quinlivan shared stories of late payments and non-payments, and made the case for financial transparency. “It is demoralizing and humiliating to have to beg to be paid,” Elson began. “Young creatives entering the fashion industry don’t have the means, nor the support that I do. They think they’re walking into a coveted and lucrative industry, and, yes, often they assume it will be financially rewarding, yet the harsh reality is that fashion is a very expensive business to break into and the lack of financial transparency can force creatives into a huge amount of debt.”

Senator Hoylman backed Elson up: “If a supermodel like Karen Elson can’t get paid on time, how do we expect the thousands of models who aren’t well known and creatives that work behind the scenes to get their check and have the protections that every worker in New York State deserves?” he asked. According to his figures, the fashion industry constitutes 5.5% of the New York state’s workforce, and brings in $11 billion in wages and nearly $2 billion in tax revenues each year.

The Fashion Workers Act follows on the heels of landmark legislation that made California the first state to require hourly wages for garment workers. Today is the 111th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Hoylman made a connection between the labor movement spawned by that tragedy in which 146 garment workers, mostly young women, died, and the goals of the Fashion Workers Act in 2022. “First, agencies are going to have a fiduciary responsibility to models and creatives. Second, we’re going to make sure they get paid on time and in full. Third, we’re going to prohibit unreasonably high commissions and outrageous fees, and fourth, we’re going to create new protection against retailiations for all of these workers.”



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