As we come to the end of the comparable NYFW, I find myself (as I do every year) compelled to have “The Talk” with parents. Before reading on, know that I might hurt some feelings. I know that you may not want to hear what I have to say, but regardless, the truth hurts and I’m here to help you navigate this industry in the safest way possible for your child.
Your child (most likely) has not walked in NYFW. Every year I get emails or comments claiming “My child just walked NYFW for (insert no name designer here) and we are now looking for representation” OR “We were contacted by… to walk in NYFW, can you get us into more shows?” OR the cringiest of them all, “We just paid $$$ for our child to walk in NYFW, great exposure, well worth every penny!” and the fact is, you very well may have just ended your child’s modeling career before it even started. There are only a select few shows every year featuring child models that are legit. This will not earn you brownie points with an agent. This is the furthest thing from what an agent wants to hear. Why? Well, picture this scenario: you just paid a ton of money for your child to walk in an industry-known scam show, posted photos all over..you’re so proud! Now you’re represented by an agency and tagging them on social media, making your audience think that the agency had something to do with placing you in said scam show…How do you think this makes the agency look? Did you know that a licensed agency is not allowed to charge any upfront fees to represent talents or provide any services? Agents only make money once you have made money. So, why would an agent or agency put their license in jeopardy by being associated with a show that charged you a fee in order to be included? Ahhh..makes a little more sense now, huh?
It’s called “Pay to Play.”
“Pay to play” is a major No-No in this industry, especially when it comes to kids. Agents tend not to want to associate themselves with parents who are so willing to throw their kids to the wolves, sort of speaking, as it makes the agency look bad. Not only that, but it violates so many laws that parents have no knowledge of.
This is why it is so important to have representation prior to Just because a designer has a show on the same week as NYFW does not mean that they are actually in NYFW. Many designers will intentionally schedule their shows during NYFW so that they can target parents who get caught up in the glitz and glam of it all. A parent is more likely to want to dish out the big bucks for their kid to walk “NYFW” than if the show was, say, a few months prior and without the label. I once asked a group of parents why the urge to spend on this was so appealing. The general consensus was that they were told this would “get them in the door,” that there would be agents, clients for future projects, and industry professionals there watching. I hate to break it to you, but that is the farthest thing from the truth. Agents are much too busy to attend NYFW shows, and most, if not all, of the audience at these shows, are just other parents who got caught up in the same scam. Worse, those parents are also charged for a ticket to watch the show. You just paid twice for your child to work.
How to spot a scam
The number one rule in this industry is…NO PAY TO PLAY. You wouldn’t work a full day and then pay your boss for the job you just did. Your child shouldn’t either. If you are contacted by a designer, your first question should always be, “Are there any fees associated?” and your second, “What is the rate for this job?” I’m willing to bet, if it’s a scam, you’ll receive a response along the lines of, “There is a fee of XXXX, a small price to pay for the amount of exposure your child will receive, and the children will be paid in clothing from the designer themselves!” They might even entice you with promises of celebrities attending the show, which will never actually happen.
Back to my previous remark about violating child labor laws. Another good practice is to ask yourself if they are following child labor laws. A legitimate show will keep this in mind. Familiarize yourself with those laws by going to the NY state department of labor website and searching for child performers- allowed hours on set. This detailed list will help you weed out who’s actually knowledgeable about industry standards. You can also head over to the official website for NYFW and find a list of registered shows under the NYFW umbrella and their schedules. If your show is not on the list, they are not actually a part of NYFW.
There are so many dangers associated with scammers who prey on children and their parents in this industry. I urge you to do your due diligence when it comes to these things, not only for NYFW but with all industry-related entities. Take the time to do your research, learn the industry, and seek representation before accepting any gigs. You would not believe most of the stories I’ve heard over the years, so please believe me when I say, the 5 minutes of fame and co-motion your child receives after walking in a scam show is not worth it.
So.. Has your child actually walked in New York Fashion Week?
Stellar-NYC model Caroline Valencia walks for NIKE at the RookieUSA show during NYFW.
Photo by Shawn Punch Photography