James KirkJames Kirk
31 Stories

Fashion Models Wrestle With Debt

If you think a fashion model’s life is filled with luxury and affluence, you are mistaken. Models struggle with money problems.

As fashion weeks come up in quick succession in New York, London, Milan and Paris, hundreds of models are travelling to the four fashion capitals in the hope of getting work.

But many will go home financially worse off than when they arrived.

Anna (real name concealed) has worked as a model since she was 17, appearing on the catwalk for Prada, Mulberry, Comme des Garcons and many others.

But after three years, she still hasn't managed to pay off all the £10,000 she owes to her modelling agencies.

"My debt situation started right away when I started modelling,"

The first agency Anna signed with, in her home country in western Europe, advanced her £350 for taking test photographs, a cost that was added to an account in her name.

Later she was flown to London for a casting, and that cost was also added to her account, including accommodation and living expenses. The amount she owed mounted.

"They would ask me if I wanted a driver, without being clear that this is very expensive, and that I have to pay for it," she says.

The problem for fashion models is that while their agencies will typically pay for their flights, accommodation and expenses up front, it is standard industry practice that they want the money back.

So if a model travels to the latest London Fashion Week, which starts on Friday, and doesn't get work, they will be in debt to their agency for the amount it spent getting the model there.

Image credit
: Getty Images