Photo: David Bailey (from back in the good old days)
It's no secret that models don't get paid particularly well here in New Zealand. Like I mentioned recently, most campaigns pay between $1000 and $10,000 (though generally at the lower end of the scale), with designer lookbooks starting off at just $250, and many paying in straight contra (ie free clothes as opposed to money). And bear in mind that the model only takes home approximately 60% of those earnings once tax and commission is taken out. Unless a model has a regular commercial client like Farmers, The Warehouse or Postie Plus to pay the bills, the only hope is to build a good book filled with editorial tearsheets then head out into the world to try to make it internationally. After I wrote the initial post, an anonymous model contacted me to say that she has had enough. In her email, she writes that a person wouldn't expect to pay for rent or petrol with a dress, so why should a designer be allowed to get away with it? Read it in full, below.
"Thank God someone has finally brought this issue to light and been brave enough to discuss it. I am a working New Zealand model who can't work fulltime because the money we earn here in NZ is laughable. Although we don't expect $60,000 campaigns here, we would appreciate some form of payment for our work.
Eight out of 10 jobs I get aren't paying and most pay in contra which is ridiculous, I can't pay for my petrol or rent with a dress or a scarf, and I wouldn't dream of offering someone my comp cards as a form of payment. The other thing that disappoints me with the fashion industry here is, even when they pay contra it's usually pitiful, a whole day's work for $200 contra when a dress alone is $400? Come on, appreciate the work this person has done for you and be reasonable.
It has gotten to the point where they act as though modelling is a 'hobby' or 'fun' and that the model should be happy enough to even be doing it. We take designers seriously so all we ask is to be taken seriously in return.
A message to the industry in NZ: Pay your models and pay them properly. If you're selling your clothes at $500 a pop you can afford to pay someone for their labour."
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