How Much Are Designers Paying Their Models For New York Fashion Week?

by Hilary George-Parkin

There is no shortage of misconceptions about how much models get paid to walk runway shows during New York Fashion Week. But now, thanks to organizations like The Model Alliance and increased online scrutiny, some of them are starting to get cleared up.

This week, both BuzzFeed Shift and Refinery29 have published pieces investigating the issue, gathering cold hard numbers from models, agents, and advocates alike. While there have been many complaints in the past about models receiving only trade (that is, clothing or accessories from the designer) for walking in runway shows, there are mixed reports this season. BuzzFeed’s Amy Odell interviewed a model who said that smaller shows will pay around $150, while larger ones will pony up $200 to $500. Refinery29′s source, who worked for 10 brands this season, was paid between $800 and 1,000 cash for the each of the four shows she walked, $1,000 for a big name presentation, and trade for the remaining five.

Some other things we learned:

Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Oscar de la Renta are three New York bigwigs who have always paid cash to the girls they send down their catwalks.

Michael Kors likewise pays "great rates" despite being one of the most coveted gigs of the week.

Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, and Marc Jacobs began paying their models in the spring 2013 season, likely somewhere "in the hundreds."

Narciso Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler, and Anna Sui all still pay only in trade.

One model, interviewed by Refinery29, racked up $4,200 (including trade value) for walking seven runway shows and appearing in one presentation. But transportation alone cost $400, and she now has to pay for expenses over in Europe.


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