A quick google search containing the words ‘gender pay gap’ will bring up hundreds of thousands of articles, with varied opinions on the subject. Whilst some discuss the intricate details of why it exists, others contemplate whether it does at all. But after a few skims of why April 4th (in the US at least) is widely regarded as ‘equal pay day’ the injustices between men and women become horrifyingly apparent; women have to work until this date the following year to earn on average as much as their male counterparts do in the year previous. And, as tastefully pointed out by Billie Jean King to Emma Stone in a nod towards intersectional feminism, this pertains only to white women. In the states, Latina women would have to work till the following October to earn as much!
But the gender debate has been brought to the fore very recently with the BBC information leak showing that two thirds of top earners are men, and earning a lot more at that. You can even look to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to see actresses such as Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence speak up and tackle the taboo of equal pay amongst directors and production companies. You’d think that being well into the 21st century, we wouldn’t need to talk about it anymore, but the fact of the matter is it’s still very much there.
Jennifer Lawrence spoke out against being paid less than her male co-stars
However, according to a recent research survey by Bluebella, one industry where women rise in the ranks and earn a lot more than men is fashion modelling! In fact, out of the top ten best-paid British models, David Gandy was the only male to make the cut, taking home £4 million a year, thanks to a few hard-hitting campaigns with M&S and Dolce and Gabbana; half that of Cara Delevigne, the UK’s official top model when it comes to pay packets.
Cara Delevigne is the highest-earning UK model
Kate Moss, the ‘it’ girl of the British 90s, graced the hot number one spot for years, but apparently is now sitting at number three, just behind Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is well known for her close relationship with Marks and Spencer, having her own makeup and lingerie range, Autograph. But although she may have dropped a couple of places Kate is by no means lagging behind, she has still banked £5 million in the last year thanks to contracts with Equipment and a new jewellery collection with Brazilian designer Ara Vartanian. Not to mention her ongoing ‘London Look’ with Rimmel, reaching its 16th year!
Naomi Campbell takes fifth place with £3 million a year, who, alongside Jourdan Dunn, are the only people of colour on the list, highlighting the pay gap between race as well as gender.
Naomi Campbell takes fifth place in the earning ranks of UK models
But why does this gender pay gap exist so strongly in fashion where it tends to be the opposite everywhere else? Is it that male models are just less popular, or is it because fashion in general is still seen as a very female-dominated industry. Whilst androgyny is rising in popularity, Womenswear is still seen by designers as the go-to if you want to become a household name, and a luxury one at that. Looking at any fashion week in any city, Womenswear takes centre stage; maybe the higher demand for women to walk creates this gaping hole that needs filling by the best of the best.
And it’s not just high fashion and editorial that’s hit by this, the kinds of campaigns that go to high-earning female models are not not as open to men. We spoke to the incredible paralympian Stef Reid recently for our blog, where we discussed why male athletes are chosen to represent sports brands, but women athletes are not, due to their muscular bodies not fitting the ‘feminine’ social stereotype of beautiful. Where the fashion industry tends to be more diverse for women, men are often asked to fit into two categories: a tanned and muscular hunk or a skinny pretty boy. This isn’t a rule of thumb, but could go some way to explaining why this pay gap has been allowed to grow so large.
The way in which we consume fashion has also fundamentally changed; "what this list shows is the power of social media” explains Bluebella CEO Emily Bendell. Further down the list appears Kate's younger sister Lottie Moss at tenth, as well as Georgia May Jagger and Edie Campbell, all with large online followings, but none as big as the top gun herself. With 40.4 million followers on Instagram, Cara is leading the charge to live your life online, and why shouldn’t she? Access to social media means we know more about each other's lives than ever before and we expect that with even more ferocity from the rich and famous, who many aspire to. Perhaps Kate’s much smaller following is what helped to push her down the list? According to Emily Bendell, "increasingly, Instagram will determine the stars of the future, and the new generation of models replacing Kate, Naomi and other supermodels of the last 30 years will be determined not just by their looks but by how they engage with the world of fashion through social media."
The figures were compiled by the international lingerie brand Bluebella, based on the models catwalk day rates and commercial deals.