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(Bloomberg) -- French luxury titans LVMH and Kering agreed to curb the use of ultra-skinny models on runways and in advertising campaigns, bowing to a public outcry over unhealthy depictions of young women by the fashion industry.
The Paris-based companies said they’d implement stricter guidelines for the treatment of models, including increasing minimum garment sizes for fashion shows as well as requiring them to have medical certificates attesting to their good health. Models below the age of 16 will be banned from showing grown-up fashions, while those ages 16 to 18 will need to be chaperoned, the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday.
“Certain subjects rise above any competition,” Antoine Arnault, chief executive officer of LVMH-owned shoemaker Berluti and eldest son of group chairman Bernard Arnault, said in an interview. “There have been problems in all houses with the way fashion models work, with their well-being and even their psychological safety. A lot of the models are very young, and they don’t have the necessary experience to cope with certain situations. They will be looked after.”
The entente between Louis Vuitton owner LVMH and Gucci parent Kering -- fierce rivals in most aspects of their business -- reflects the sensitivity of the issue amid growing concern over teenage eating disorders. As social media posts shed light on the working conditions of young men and women in the industry, the French government has moved to make it illegal to employ ultra-thin models via a law that went into effect earlier this year.
Kering-owned Balenciaga dismissed its casting directors during Paris Fashion Week in March after they were accused of ill-treatment of models in a viral social media post. LVMH flagship Louis Vuitton faced a similar uproar in May when a model said she had been sent home from a show in Japan for being too heavy. The companies disputed the facts of the incidents, but the claims stole a focus from the season’s fashions at pivotal moments for the brands.
The alliance will affect the industry more widely, according to Marco Pozzi, senior adviser at Contactlab in Milan, who estimates that the two companies’ sales make up roughly 15 percent of the luxury fashion industry.
“This is about ethics, which are becoming more important for luxury,” Pozzi said. Brands like Gucci have worked to expand their customer bases to younger generations, “who are really much more conscious.”
Arnault said he hoped the guidelines would be fully implemented by the autumn-winter fashion shows in spring 2018.
“We hope to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide,” Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement.
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