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NY’s Model Alliance outlines a new programme to stop abuse in fashion

In an open letter posted to Instagram, the organisation puts forward RESPECT – a new plan to make the industry a safer place for models

Over the course of the last few months, a huge amount of those working within the fashion industry have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment in the workplace and beyond.

Recently, though, the momentum propelling the #MeToo movement forward in fashion has somewhat slowed (see our report on the lack of acknowledgement at the Met Gala if you’re looking for proof). But one organisation that’s keen to ensure it doesn’t grind to a halt is New York’s Model Alliance, which today posted details of its new RESPECT programme via an open letter posted to Instagram.

Model Alliance was founded in 2012 by Sara Ziff to fight for fairer, safer working conditions for those working in fashion, with RESPECT born of the fact that ‘nothing meaningful has yet been done with the information brought forward in recent months’. Ziff, a former model, has been continuously vocal on the matter, and recently called out Karl Lagerfeld for his characteristically shocking comments on #MeToo as part of a controversial interview in Numéro magazine.

Designed by models and their allies, the RESPECT programme is intended to reshape and reform both the abuse and the often detrimental practices employed in fashion, with a set of guidelines as to how those within its ranks should move forward. Holding everyone accountable, it also asks individuals and companies – both established and emerging – to pledge their allegiance to the cause by signing up and committing to make the industry a safer place. As well as harassment and assault, Ziff’s aim is to also curtail the body-shaming and bullying that’s rife, too.

“RESPECT provides an industry-wide blueprint for protecting models and their colleagues from harassment. RESPECT goes beyond words of sympathy and band-aid fixes, and works towards prevention by empowering models to identify and uproot these abuses, backed by the enforcement power of the top companies in fashion,” the letter states. As part of a survey conducted by Model Alliance in 2012, 85% of female models have been asked to pose nude at a job or casting without prior notice, while 1 in 3 have been put under pressure to have sex on the job. 

The programme has attracted support from the likes of Dazed 100-er Teddy Quinlivan (who has been vocal about her own negative experiences of working as a model), Karen Elson, Milla Jovovich, and Doutzen Kroes, who have all pledged their names in solidarity and support of the initiative. It goes without saying that RESPECT has our support, and we’re hoping to see the names on the list grow exponentially in the coming days.

See the full letter here.