NEW YORK, U.S. – On the eve of the New York fashion week, owners of top French fashion firms have pledged to stop using underage and size zero models.
The fashion houses said that they wouldn’t use underage and size zero models in catwalk shows and advertising campaigns anymore.
The move was announced by French luxury groups LVMH and Kering, owners of some of the biggest labels in haute couture including Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Gucci.
They further added that they would like to persuade others in the industry from following suit.
For years now, the industry has been accused of promoting unhealthy body images to women and ignoring well-documented health problems experienced by models.
Earlier this year, the French government voted through a law requiring models to have a medical certificate confirming they were not dangerously underweight.
Further, reports noted that the LVMH-Kering Charter on working relations and the well-being of models bans certain designers from featuring women who wear the French size 32 – a size zero in the U.S.
It stated that female models must be at least a French size 34 (U.S. size 2; U.K. size 6) and male models a French size 44 (internationally labeled as XXS), adding, “No model under 16 years will be recruited to take part in fashion shows or photographic sessions representing adults.”
Antoine Arnault, son of LMVH director Bernard Arnault and a member of the company’s management, said, “A young girl of 15 years old does not have the necessary experience to deal with the difficult world of modeling.”
In a statement, François-Henri Pinault, son of Kering owner François Pinault, said, “We wanted to move quickly and hit hard so that things really change. We’re trying to persuade as many others in our profession to follow us.”
Kering and LVMH have reportedly added that the rules would apply to all companies in their groups.
It said, “The two groups are placing respect for and the dignity of women at the heart of their values: that’s why we’ve always had, in particular, the well-being of the models we work with in mind. The two groups have agreed to only work with models who hold a valid medical certificate proving their good health and ability to work, which must have been obtained in the six months before a photo session or show.”
Further, another rule, to come into immediate effect was that those between 16-18 years will no longer be allowed to work between 11 pm and 6 am.
The ones in this category must also be accompanied by a parent or chaperone if required to stay away from home.
LVMH said in a statement, “The wellbeing of our models is a fundamental subject.”
Further, in December 2015, a bill approved by the French parliament came into effect this year.
The bill made it obligatory for models working in France to obtain a medical certificate to prove they are healthy, with fines handed out to those who don’t.
The bill also obliged magazines to flag up photographs that had been touched up or Photoshopped.
What accentuated the problem, even more, was that in France, up to 40,000 people – most of them adolescent women – have anorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder with a high mortality rate.