British Vogue has signed up to a new set of guidelines produced by actors and models union Equity. Last May, Vogue’s 20 international editors joined forces to spearhead the Vogue Health Initiative, a project designed to improve body image and health issues in the fashion industry.
Now British Vogue has signed a new ‘code of conduct’ drawn up by the U.K.’s entertainment industry union Equity, designed to improve working conditions for the models who make up one of the backbones of the fashion world.
“Here in Britain, we’ve been working with model agencies to assist in the education and mentorship of younger models, and our support of the Equity Code reinforces our continued commitment to set the benchmark for this important industry issue. We’re very pleased that Equity is using its position in such a positive way,” said British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman.
The changes are a response to what Equity’s Dunja Knezevic calls “treatment of the kind which would be wholly unacceptable in any other profession.”
With the new guidelines, Vogue models’ working days will be limited to 10 hours with mandatory breaks; adequate food, changing rooms, transport will be provided; and, unless agreed in advance, models will not be asked to do nude or semi-nude shots. Models under 16 will also no longer be allowed to represent adult models, although the practical policing of this policy remains to be seen.
“Signing up to Equity’s Ten Point Code truly shows British Vogue’s dedication to improving the working conditions of models,” Knezevic told Vogue.
British Vogue is the first major publication to sign up to the code, but Equity are hopeful that other brands and media outlets will be swift to follow in the U.K. There is currently no official union for models in the United States, where models are considered as ‘independent contractors’ on set. American non-profit group, The Model Alliance, was founded by ex-model Sara Ziff, who praised Shulman in the Guardian newspaper “for recognizing that models deserve workplace protection like all other workers, including collective representation. I hope that her colleagues on this side of the Atlantic will follow her lead.”