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Male models remain the underdog in fashion's pay gap

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - Although we live in a patriarchal world, which sees men making more money in same position as women across nearly all sectors, there is one industry where women have been singled out as the top earners - fashion.

Fashion models that is, as despite efforts to close the gender pay gap in the fashion retail, men are still getting paid more than women are and more likely to be promoted than women according to research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR. However, as Paris fashion week begins in French capital of fashion, reports emerge that male models are receiving up to 75 percent less than their female counterparts.

A photo posted by Sean O'Pry (@seanopry55) on

Modelling industry sees male models paid less than women

"I think it's the only industry where men get paid less than women," said Elizabeth Rose, modelling agent at Premier in an interview with the BBC. "It's unfair for men [and] I wouldn't say it's female empowerment at all." Rose, who aided in creating the modelling careers of the likes of Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, revealed that top female models can receive up to 40,000 pounds for walking in a headlining fashion week show. But her male counterpart is likely to only receive 10,000 pounds on average, making it a 30,000 pounds pay gap. This is backed up by data from Payscale, which indicates female models earn an average of 41,300 US dollars (31,900 pounds) annually, which is a whopping 148 per cent more than men, who earn approximately 28,000 US dollars (21,600 pounds) on average per year - hardly a paycheck Derek Zoolander or Hansel would take home.

The situation is said to be slowly changing within the industry as men across the world begin to spend more money on fashion, beauty and grooming products. The global menswear market has been growing over the past few years, encouraged by a new generation of men and is predicted to reach 325 billion pounds in 2019, according to research firm Euromonitor. "[One] reason why women get paid more is that [advertisers] say women spend more money on female products, but I think it's one of those things that's changing," said Rose. The addition of men in the popular TV show America's Next Top Model , founded by former model Tyra Banks further highlights a change in sentiments within a largely female driven industry.

Female model earn on average 148 per cent more per year than male counterparts

However, despite growing interest in the menswear market, womenswear continues to pave the way for the fashion industry, with the global market forecast to hit 615 billion pounds in 2019, according to Marketline. This interest is fuelled by the latest army of 'it' models and supermodels, which includes faces such as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. Although the highest earning model in the world remains supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who made approximately 44 million US dollars last year according to Forbes, these new generation models climbed up the career ladder, earning 10 million US dollars and 9 million dollars over the last year respectively.

In contrast, according to the most recent data from Forbes on male models income from 2013, shows that the highest earning male model of the year was Sean O'Pry, who made 1,5 million US dollars (1,15 million pounds), followed by male model veteran David Gandy, who made 1,4 million US dollars. "The top 10 female models all make millions. Only the top three male models make over a million," pointed out Rose. In fact, the top 10 highest earning female models made a total of 107,5 million US dollars (83 million pounds) between June 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016 (prior to taxes and fees) according to Forbes. So even though top-end male models can earn over a million US dollars a year, the highest paid female models can easily make 10 times than amount in the same period.

Male models need to become aware of gender pay gap

A photo posted by Gucci (@gucci) on

Not only do male models make less than their female counterparts - they are also exposed to discrimination when it comes to their age or their physic. In the past, designers and advertisers sought out men whose body was that of an Adonis, not too far off from a bodybuilder. However, with time tastes have shifts and as the boundaries between both genders contain to blur and more designers and brands seek out androgynous models to showcase their collections. Now male models with slim, lanky figures appear in be in Vogue, having been spotted on the catwalks at Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, while muscular and traditionally shaped male models are being increasingly looked over.

Some may argue that successful male models are able to hold on to a longer career as a model than their female counterpart, but it largely depends on their unique look, drive and increasingly their following. One exception which comes to mind when you think of male models is David Gandy. Aged 36, the British model is said to be the first male supermodels, with a current net worth of 10 million US dollars (7.7 million pounds) according to Gonetworth. On the other hand, there are the likes of Adriana Lima, who has been modelling since she was 15 years old. She is one of Victoria's Secret longest standing Angels, earned 10.5 million US dollars last year and holds a net worth of 70 million US dollars (54 million pounds.)

A photo posted by Adriana Lima (@adrianalima) on

However, there are more and more agents like Rose who are standing up for their clients rights and fighting for a higher pay. "The more models are made aware of it, the more you can try and help change it, because the more agents that say, 'No, we're not accepting this,' that's the only way it'll ever change," she stressed. "And models standing up and saying, 'I'm not going to do this unless I'm paid the same as the woman.'"

Photo: Derek Zoolander and Hansel, Valentino catwalk, Facebook

Adriana Lima
David Gandy
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Gigi Hadid
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