- Bad news today from across the pond: Erin O’Connor has announced that the Model Sanctuary at London Fashion Week will not operate this season. The supermodel, a prominent supporter of the models’ union that exists in the United Kingdom and a campaigner for models’ health and well-being, has organized a Model Sanctuary at LFW every season since 2008. At the Sanctuary, models could learn about their rights, talk to one another, receive career and educational counseling, make contact with a variety of health-care professionals, and do fun things like get a massage — all free of charge. The Sanctuary also served simply as a space where models could go just to have a rest between shows, fittings, and castings. O’Connor says “reasons beyond [her] control” led to the closure, including the loss of key sponsors and difficulties securing an appropriate space. “I urge the fashion industry, its partners and key stakeholders to help us secure a permanent home during London Fashion Week, so that we can continue our valuable work,” says O’Connor. “It is absolutely vital that we prioritise the welfare of young people within our industry.” [Vogue UK]
- In other fashion industry labor news today, a former intern for Harper’s Bazaar is suing the magazine’s parent company, Hearst, for allegedly violating the law by failing to pay her minimum wage. Unpaid internships are common in fashion — whether in publishing, design, or public relations — but the letter of the law states that an unpaid internship must be of significant educational value, equivalent to job training, to the intern in order to be legal. Unpaid interns are not employees, and therefore they are not supposed to perform the duties of an employee; the employer is not supposed to derive any benefit or advantage from an unpaid intern’s labor. An Ohio State University graduate named Xuedan Wang alleges that Harper’s Bazaar violated the law by having her work 40 to 55 hours a week for five months, doing typically employee-like things such as tracking samples and scheduling deliveries. The lawsuit argues:
“Employers’ failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.”
Developing. [New York Times]
Jenna Sauers is the Editor of the Model Alliance’s Daily Feed, which keeps models informed of labor issues in the fashion industry. Jenna is a former model who now works primarily as a journalist covering the fashion industry. She blogs for Jezebel, and has written for publications including the New York Times, the New York Observer, and Jalouse. Jenna is a 2007 graduate of the University of Iowa, with a B.A. in French and English literature.