‘ It’s time to stamp out ex­ploita­tion’ - Model pub­lishes guide on avoid­ing fash­ion pit­falls

The Scotsman - - NEWS DIGEST - By SHÂN ROSS shan. [email protected] scots­man. com

One of Scot­land’s first black su­per­mod­els is urg­ing peo­ple work­ing in fash­ion to join a union to help stamp out ex­ploita­tion in the in­dus­try.

Ed­in­burgh-born Eu­nice Olu­mide, an ac­tivist who has worked for top cou­ture houses such as Alexan­der Mc­queen, Christo­pher Kane and Vivienne West­wood, said mod­el­ling’s in­se­cure and tem­po­rary na­ture left peo­ple sus­cep­ti­ble to bad treat­ment and miss­ing out on ba­sic em­ploy­ment rights.

O lu mi de, who has also ap­peared in mag­a­zines such as Vogue, Tatler and New York Mag­a­zine, has writ­ten a new book en­ti­tled ‘ How To Get Into Fash­ion’ as there were al­most no man­u­als to help young peo­ple striv­ing to get into the in­dus­try.

Olu­mide, whose par­ents are from Nige­ria, said: “Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple work in the UK fash­ion in­dus­try in dif­fer­ent sec­tors, con­tribut­ing a huge part to the econ­omy.

“They need some kind of sup­port and ad­vice be­cause there is so much vague mis­in­for­ma­tion out there.

“For ex­am­ple, I met some­one who’d handed over £ 2,000 to have his pho­tos taken. He’d been taken in. I’ve never heard of any agency which would ask for this.

“In the very worst cases I came across mod­els who had been badly treated sim­ply be­cause they were un­sure about the bound­aries of their oc­cu­pa­tion, what they might be asked to do and how their image could be mis­used or even ex­ploited.

“So my pri­mary con­cern is to pro­tect peo­ple from putting them­selves in sit­u­a­tions that are not pro­duc­tive or nec­es­sary to achieve their dreams.

“A good way to pre­vent ex­ploita­tion if you work in fash­ion is to join Eq­uity – the union who’ve been rep­re­sent­ing us for around five years.”

Olu­mide, praised by view­ers and com­men­ta­tors for her con­tri­bu­tion to BBC’S Ques­tion Time in Fe­bru­ary when she spoke about ac­tor Liam Nee­son’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments on race, said: “Peo­ple work­ing in fash­ion need in­de­pen­dent ad­vice and sup­port, es­pe­cially since they rely so heav­ily on agents for work.”

The 31- year- old was scouted by one of Lon­don’s top model agen­cies at the age of 15 and was ap­pointed De­sign Cham­pion by the V& A Mu­seum in Dundee last year.

She said: “They can be sus­cep­ti­ble to un­kind­ness and ex­ploita­tion be­cause you can be so eas­ily re­placed, un­like nor­mal jobs. Even if you’re ex­tremely suc­cess­ful, you need ad­vice and af­ter care on things like pen­sions.”

Olu­mide will dis­cuss her new book to­mor­row at the 2019 Boswell Book Fes­ti­val at Dum­fries House in Cum­nock, Ayr­shire.

The book also in­cludes ad­vice on as­pects of the in­dus­try such as find­ing an agent, iden­ti­fy­ing a per­sonal look, build­ing a port­fo­lio, so­cial me­dia, healthy eat­ing and deal­ing with re­jec­tion.

Ude Joe- Adigwe, re­gional or­gan­iser for the union GMB Scot­land, said: “The very fact some­one of her cal­i­bre finds it nec­es­sary to speak out makes you won­der how many peo­ple are be­ing ex­ploited.

“But most mod­els have a short work­ing life and those who are en­ter­ing are likely to be very young and won’t have any ex­pe­ri­ence of the work­place, so can eas­ily be ex­ploited by un­scrupu­lous peo­ple.”

Caro­line Knox, di­rec­tor of the fes­ti­val, said Olu­mide’s ses­sion would be an in­spi­ra­tion for young peo­ple.

Olu­mide has worked for top cou­ture houses such as Alexan­der Mc­queen, Christo­pher Kane and Vivienne West­wood

0 Eu­nice

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