New Israeli Law Bans Underweight Models In AdvertsAs reported by The Daily Telegraph, Israel has recently enacted a law by which models working in the country must submit medical certification stating that they're not malnourished. Guidelines for determining malnutrition were adopted from Body Mass Index (BMI) standards established by the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, ads for the local market must have a disclaimer in cases where the model was digitally altered to appear thinner. This law won't impact foreign publications sold in Israel.
Other countries have tackled this issue before. A variety of designers have approached this issue in different ways (see here for one example) for close to a decade. In addition, fashion industry groups, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in the United States, have adopted guidelines to address anorexia and other health issues that affect fashion models. This appears to be a new milestone, in that a country has enacted explicit legislation around this issue. In effect, it's attempting to regulate an industry that has up until this point largely policed itself.
Marc Jacobs Doesn't Pay His Models, Says ModelThis one's been brewing online for a while now, as it's a story that broke shortly after New York's Fashion Week in February. According to the piece at Jezebel.com one young model, who was 16 at the time, worked over 30 hours and wasn't paid for her efforts. What she ultimately received in terms of compensation was "trade," meaning clothing and accessories from Marc Jacobs.
It's unclear if there's any documentation--from the model's agency or from Marc Jacobs--which explicitly outlines the terms and conditions of her service as a model. This wasn't an unpaid internship, which is a different type of work relationship. Nor was she compensated for her services through her modeling agency. It appears that the unspoken rules of this scenario are that this work is about exposure, not performing a paid service.
From a legal standpoint this is a grey area that needs exploring. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is a Federal law, as a 16 year old she may be employed for unlimited hours in an occupation. However, New York State has specific regulations for child models. In it there's the following statement:
"No minor 16 or 17 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 4 hours in any 1 day in which such school is in session or 8 hours in any 1 day in which such school is not in session but not more than 28 hours in any such week."
I'm curious to know how this regulation applies to non-residents, as the model in question is from Oregon. This is probably how companies get around it.
Along with malnutrition, the CFDA guidelines I talked about in the first piece encourages agencies and designers not to use underage (those under 16) models during Fashion Week. The reasoning is that Fashion Week events are intense. The long hours and high expectations surrounding it puts young models in an uncomfortable position of choosing work over other commitments, such as school.
In this Marc Jacobs situation, while the model in question was 16, it does expose a related issue, which is exploitation. Younger models looking for their big break are less likely to question the ethical and legal implications of working long hours with little to no pay. And like unpaid internships, which have been abused by companies, this practice won't change until more people come forward. I'm curious to see where this issue goes next. I certainly don't believe this is the last of it.
Brazil's New Consumer Class Flocks To US To Snap Up Bargains, Especially Luxury ItemsThis article, through statistics and personal stories, discusses how Brazilians are spending significant amounts of money when they travel to the United States. As of now they spend the most of any foreign travelers to the US, followed closely by the Japanese. A booming economy (Brazil recently passed the UK as the sixth largest in the world), growing middle and upper class, and steep tariffs on imports are all contributing to this trend.
And this is a trend I've noticed for a while now. As anyone who works in the New York retail industry can attest to, you become attuned to the ebb and flow of tourists. It's part of the joy of working in the greatest city on Earth. This tourist traffic, depending on a country's economic position, along with whichever fashion mania they're experiencing in the moment, makes for memorable experiences in addition to strong sales.
One experience I recall occurred back in the early 90's when Levi's 501 Original Fit jeans were the rage in Japan. As an associate I would work with clients who came to the States, oftentimes on a monthly basis, to buy thousands of dollars in jeans. And while it was expensive, I knew the cost for them was far cheaper than it would have been back in Japan. They were always welcome!
For retailers I'm curious to know if any plan on actively recruiting (or developing internal) talent that can speak fluent Portuguese. Or Chinese perhaps, as they're another group traveling to the United States (and elsewhere) to spend large sums of money. Regarding my Levi's story, I would have enjoyed speaking to my customers in their native language. It would have helped me to better deliver on their needs. It wasn't an option so I had to use body language to communicate, which was awkward and funny. Thankfully, this was before Youtube, so there's no proof.
My point is that it's becoming more critical that customer facing talent be multi-lingual, along with having a good understanding of a guest's culture and expectations, in order to ensure an excellent customer experience. If not, having a memorable and (to them at this moment in time) cheap brand may not be enough to ensure that these traveler's dollars will be spent at your place of business.
Honest By: A Game Changing Label That Offers Supply Chain TransparencyA lot of designers and retailers talk about sustainability. From a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standpoint many have programs in which they demonstrate to consumers how they work with supply chain partners. Along with promoting a sustainability message, Honest By claims to be the first clothing retailer that will provide a full cost breakdown of the products it sells. According to the company's website: "We offer designer products with complete transparency in price and manufacturing...suppliers are vetted to ensure every component in every product has the smallest impact on our health and environment."
Aside from the company's website, you can learn more about Honest By and its business model here.
In light of the recent Apple issues concerning its supply chain partners, Honest By offers an interesting counterpoint. As I argued in a post a few weeks back, Apple could have been innovative not just in terms of its products but also in how its product are manufactured. And while it's too early to tell if Honest By's business model is sustainable (the company launched in January 2012), the fact that it exists is a sign to others that looking to adopt alternative business practices.