New York Fashion Week may still (officially) be two days away, but something major is already underway in response to the fashion industry’s sexual harassment reckoning. On Tuesday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), alongside advocacy group the Model Alliance, announced that, for the first time ever, models will have private spaces to change at the fashion shows, a necessary precaution.
In a statement, Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff said: “Models have raised concerns about invasive photography and lack of privacy while changing clothes backstage at New York Fashion Week. The Model Alliance takes these concerns seriously and we decided to take additional steps this season to ensure a safe and respectful work environment by providing private changing areas backstage.” She confirmed the two organizations have been working closely with IMG and Pier 59 studios to accommodate these areas.
In recent months, more and more models have spoken out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault in the industry in order to create more awareness around the topic, and ultimately create safer working conditions. With the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse, model and activist Cameron Russell was instrumental in facilitating the conversation, around the topic, reminding those in and outside of fashion that there should be ramifications for its perpetrators.
In her pre-fashion week memo, released on February 1, CFDA president and designer Diane von Furstenberg emphasized the importance of having a safe space to work in. According to WWD, she wrote: “The current climate has been marked by brave women and men and their revelations about an unacceptable culture in politics, sports, and entertainment, as well as in fashion,” referring, of course, to the sexual misconduct claims against photographers like Terry Richardson, Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, and most recently, Guess’ Paul Marciano. In addition to creating the safe space for models during New York Fashion Week, the CFDA has also very clearly outlined what is considered sexual abuse (which, for the record, is described as “any involuntary sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced, or forced to engage against their will”).
Soon, another agency will also join the fight against sexual harassment in the fashion industry. WWD is reporting that the Humans of Fashion Foundation will introduce a platform Tuesday evening to "connect individuals in the fashion industry who have experienced sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, and assault in the fashion industry with pro bono and subsidized legal professionals, counselors, and support networks.”