While the BBC may be in hot water for the gender disparity highlighted in its recent salary report, there has been little said about the state of pay within the fashion industry.
A new study, however, has shed some light on the situation – and women come out on top. Reportedly earning around 75% more than their male counterparts, women make up 9 of the top 10 UK highest earning models in British fashion.
Losing her place in the top spot is Kate Moss, who has been overtaken financially by friend and model 19 years her junior Cara Delevingne, according to new research conducted by lingerie brand Bluebella based on catwalk day rates and commercial deals.
Taking the tenth spot on the list is Kate Moss’s younger half-sister Lottie. Signed to Storm Models, the same agency that discovered Kate, the 19-year-old is reportedly already on a salary of £1 million.
Back to male modelling – when most people think of exploitation in modeling, they think of young women and girls walking the catwalk with alarmingly protruding hips and angular shoulders, or they remember the lurid tales of ‘fashion’ photographers manipulating or coercing young women into sex acts. Muscle-bound male models with perfect cheekbones and ‘fat paychecks’ – myth now debunked? They do not seem like obvious victims. But as some male models reported on numerous occasions, men and boys are increasingly at risk in the odd, unregulated workplace that is the fashion world.
Being a man does not make you safe: Male models are often subject to sexual harassment but rarely report it. Serious propositions and sexual advances are often framed as jokes, allowing the powerful figures who make them—both men and women—to dismiss them as such should they be declined.
And, like their female counterparts, males are under intense pressure to have just the right kind of body. Recent menswear trends have polarized male catwalk modeling, encouraging either extreme muscularity or waifish androgyny. Back in 2004 Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel and one of fashion’s most powerful designers, wrote in The Telegraph: “Slimane’s fashions, modelled by very, very slim boys, required me to lose at least six of my 16 stone.” How much has changed since then on men’s’ fashion week? Not much. Men have to either look like muscular hunks or ‘underage and underfed’.
In the meantime, grossly overweight -some obese- cellulite ridden female models are landing front covers of glossy magazines and praised for loving food and ‘feeling comfortable in their bodies’ as a token of political correctness.
Sara Ziff, a founder of the Model Alliance, a New York City nonprofit labour organization advocating for the greater protection of models, says male models face a uniquely difficult situation. “I definitely think that men have just as many labour-related concerns as women, if not more,” says Ziff, a longtime model. “The industry urgently needs reform. It’s an industry that has escaped any real regulation for decades.”
“Victoria’s Secret Angels make up 30% of the highest-paid in the world models’ list”
The World’s Highest-Paid Models
According to Forbes, though Gisele Bündchen still leads the world’s top-earning models with $30.5 million, Kendall Jenner (No. 3) and newcomer Gigi Hadid (No. 5) have risen up the ranks by turning their outsized Instagram followings into multi-million dollar paydays.
Gisele remains the woman to catch: The 36-year-old has made more money than any other model since 2002. She banks big from lucrative fragrance and beauty deals with Chanel , Carolina Herrera and Pantene, plus advertisements for Arezzo shoes and SkyTV in her native Brazil. More than a clotheshorse, her own line of lingerie and skincare help set her earnings apart.
Bündchen bests fellow Brazilian Adriana Lima (No. 2, $10.5 million) by $20 million. Lima, the longest-running Angel in Victoria’s Secret history, clocked her largest ever annual paycheck this year from her contract with the L Brands-owned lingerie giant, Maybelline and IWC watches, among others.
The biggest gainer year over year is third-ranked Jenner, who saw her earnings increase 150% to $10 million in 2016. She has leveraged her huge social presence of 64.4 million Instagram followers—more than anyone else on the list—into million dollar deals with the likes of Estée Lauder and Calvin Klein, who likely see her social platforms as a new media buy.
Tied with Jenner at No. 3 is Karlie Kloss, who doubled her earnings since 2015 by clocking more campaigns than any other model on the ranking. She advertised for 18 different brands in our scoring period, including Express L’Oréal and Swarovski.
Jenner and Kloss inch just ahead of the two highest-ranked newcomers: Hadid and Brit Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who both earned an estimated $9 million pretax to land at No. 5. Hadid has turned digital fame into dollars, translating over 22 million Instagram followers into contracts with top-notch retailers Maybelline and Tommy Hilfiger all before her 22nd birthday.
Huntington-Whiteley, recognizable from roles in the recent Mad Max: Fury Road and 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, found being an English rose could equal retail gold: A royalty cut from her own series of lingerie, make-up and fragrances lines for department store Marks & Spencers accounts for the majority of her millions.
Nearly a third of this year’s ranking are new. The list’s debutantes includes three breakout Victoria’s Secret models: Lily Aldridge, Jasmine Tookes and 20-year-old Taylor Hill, who is the youngest member to make the $4 million cut off.
Victoria’s Secret Angels make up 30% of the highest-paid models list, thanks in part to their lucrative contracts with the lingerie maker, while contractees Martha Hunt and Josephine Skriver were among the near misses for this year’s ranking.
Top Model Earnings – Worldwide
Gisele Bündchen $30.5 million
Adriana Lima $10.5 million
Kendal Jenner $10 million
Karlie Kloss $10 million
Gigi Hadid $ 9 million
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley $ 9 million
Liu Wen $7 million
Lara Stone $5.5million
Doutzen Kroes $5 million (David Gandi also earned £4 million according to Bluebella)
Lily Aldridge, Jasmine Tookes, Taylor Hill $4 million