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Two major fashion houses differ on what should be minimum age of models

Just days after Kering vows not to hire any runway models younger than 18, LVMH says 16 is still acceptable.
Gucci - Runway - Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2019/20
A model walks the runway at the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week on Feb. 20, 2019.Pietro D'Aprano / Getty Images for Gucci

Famed French fashion company LVMH said Friday it won't change its minimum age requirement for models in the wake of a rival vowing to not hire anyone for the catwalk who isn't at least 18.

LVMH — which produces luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Christian Dior, Berluti, Givenchy and many others — said age requirements are artificial lines that are not as important as the overall treatment of models.

LVMH said it hires a relatively small number of 16- and 17-year-old models, typically less than 20 percent of those it hires for its exhibits.

"Young models aged 16 to 18 remain largely in the minority in the LVMH Group's fashion shows," according to a company statement issued on Friday. "What matters is not so much the age as the conditions under which models work, regardless of age."

Earlier in the week, Kering — the French umbrella of high-end labels such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen — said it will not hire any models younger than 18 for its shows beginning in the 2020-21 fashion season.

“In our view, the physiological and psychological maturity of models aged over 18 seems more appropriate to the rhythm and demands that are involved in this profession," Kering's Chief Sustainability Officer Marie-Claire Daveu said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are also aware of the role-model element that images produced by our Houses can represent for certain groups of people."

Nearly two years ago, Kering and LVMH had agreed to a "Model Charter," which set 16 as the minimum age of models. The agreement also set employment standards for those younger models, who would be prohibited from working after 10 p.m. and must have a parent or guardian nearby.

LVMH on Friday said that the 2019 pact has been effective: "The LVMH Group, for its part, maintains the original commitments in the Model Charter, which has been unanimously adhered to by its brands. This charter has resulted in major progress for the well-being and health of models."