There's a stereotype of the scene backstage at fashion shows: starving, underage models on a clandestine search for a mere blueberry to hold them over, hoping designers — who need them to fit into sample sizes — won't notice. It's not a flattering picture of the industry, which is why fashion industry leaders are actively trying to change it.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, an kind of de facto guild of the country's top fashion designers, just announced that they've brokered a deal for models to secure healthy food for 50% off when they're in New York for Fashion Week, which starts on February 7.
"Models have described the difficulty of finding food that is both nutritious and convenient during Fashion Week. Please keep this in mind for both backstage and fittings," the CFDA wrote in a letter from its President, Diane Von Furstenberg and CEO, Steven Kolb. "To address this issue, we have partnered with Organic Avenue during Fashion Week and continuing through March 31, Organic Avenue will provide support and education to models in addition to a generously discounted rate of 50% on all cold-pressed juices and food. We hope that this will give models both guidance and the added nutrition they need during this demanding time!"
The deal won't exactly have models scarfing down cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Organic Avenue's limited menu includes offerings like Dandelion-Kale Salad and Crudite With Tahini. The chain, which has 9 locations in Manhattan, is also popular among fans of the juice cleanse. But at $9 to $12 for one small bottle of green juice, or $75 to $90 for a one day juice cleanse, it's an expensive way to stay full, even with a half-off discount.
Particularly for the young models who will walk shows during New York. Though modeling can be wildly lucrative at the level of Gisele, young runway models have historically been lucky to get paid at all, with designers famously trying to compensate in clothes rather than cash. A recent documentary, Girl Model detailed the unglamorous lives of struggling young models, and a group of models have also started a group called the Model Alliance, a kind of union to protect up and coming models from being exploited or treated unfairly.
The CFDA letter also noted that designers need to check ID's to make sure models are at least 16 years old and should also pay attention to child labor laws. It's a step in the right direction, but it's also not new: the CFDA Health Initiative has been saying this since 2007.