If you have been signing for the modeling career for a long time now, that’s because you see no further than those glossy magazines, photoshoots, lookbooks and graceful models sashaying down the runways as pleased as Punch and that’s because you don’t have even a single doubt in that they are making really big money and living the life of Riley. But get ready to know the dirty secrets behind the modeling industry, which might really disappoint you to bits and propel you to just continue thumbing through those glossy magazines. We already know what it actually takes to be a supermodel, also know many top models that dream of something bigger than modeling, and now we are going to reveal the truth about how much models really make in the fashion industry, of course unless they are Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid, the latter of which was reportedly paid a whopping $400,000 by MISHA Collection to walk for their runway show at the Australian Fashion Week.
The investigative series, “Runway Injustice” kicked off by CNN Money, has recently touched on the aspect of how much models make in the industry and the result is just daunting with dozens of models accusing modeling agencies of labor abuses, namely fat commissions, absurd work expenses and fees that often reduce the initially-promised paychecks leaving them with just a small amount of money. Even more ridiculous are the cases when models end up in considerable debts to the agencies.
Typically, modeling agencies charge 20% commission from the models’ paychecks but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Starting from air tickets and group housing to all promotional websites, photoshoots, portfolios and even “comp cards”, all these financial expenses are charged from the models. Some even more shocking cases have been registered like the one with model Louisa Raske, when she found out having been charged for the flowers the agency brought for her birthday. And the same model also showed past statement from another agency where it was evident that she was charged $250 from her paycheck for a client’s Christmas gifts without her being aware of that.
Among other abused models is Jamaican Alexa Palmer, who filed against the Trump Model Management claiming that the expenses charged from her added up to $12,000 in only three years, while the male model Alex Shanklin remembers to have been booked for a catalog photoshoot for $1000, which was actually reduced into only $150 after certain travel expenses.
In defense of their not committing anything wrong or unjust, the agencies told CNN Money that they invest significant resources to help their models climb the success ladder and all those fees and taxes charged are just a part of the business. Actually, some prevention measures were taken more than a decade ago when a class-action lawsuit threw discredit upon the commissions and the agencies had to pay out a multi-million dollar settlement, pledging to be more transparent from that moment on. However, 20% commission continues to ride high among modeling agencies and what makes it even more outrageous is that the 20% commission is charged not only from the models but also from their clients, thus totally proving that the modeling agencies are overt labor abusers.
According to some attorneys, the main reason that these agencies are allowed to charge such high commissions is that they introduce themselves as “management companies” rather than employment agencies, which are actually limited to charging fees by the state law.
As if the aforementioned was not enough to abuse models, the CNN Money brought to light one more absurd aspect of the industry. It is those cash advances for a 5% interest rate that most of the models have to take from the agency since the paychecks take several months to turn into cash. And heaven forbid, if it so happens that the initially promised paycheck shrinks into less than cash advances or just disappears into thin air: the model thus ends up not only with zero profit, but also owing money to the agency.
For example, retired model Carina Vretman has had a similar experience with a German modeling agency, which administered her free trip to Denmark for a catalog photoshoot but her shooting resulted in not only earning zero cent, but also the agency’s statement that she owes them 700 euro for promotional expenses.
Despite so many overt wrongdoing facts against the modeling agencies, attorney Robert Hantman, representing one of the defendants in the lawsuit, pushed forward some excuses in favor of agencies, claiming; “Until someone becomes a commercially viable model, it’s their agencies that pay their rent, advance their money, pay for the pictures that go in their ‘lookbooks,’ and help them with stylists. They spend a lot of money trying to develop the models.”
Stay tuned with CNN Money to know more about runway injustice and to be armed with enough information about the industry just in case you have remained adamant about your future modeling career.
Photo courtesy of Vogue
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