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Does the fashion industry have a nepotism problem?


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Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber and Lila Moss. What do these models have in common? If nepotism was your answer you may well be correct. The Oxford English dictionary defines nepotism as “The practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.”


 Image Credit: Tommy Truong79 on Flickr

It could be argued that these celebrity offspring are getting their jobs through sheer hard work, but then would they really be where they are if they lived on an estate and their parents worked in a fast food restaurant? 

To understand nepotism we need to go back to 1975. Jerry Hall was skyrocketed to worldwide fame after she appeared on the album cover for Sirens. She later became a Vogue cover girl multiple times and then (sort of) married rock and roll legend Mick Jagger. Hall and Jagger had four children, and their two daughters Elizabeth and Georgia-May have gone on to be incredibly successful models in their own right.

In the '80s Cindy Crawford was photographed whilst working in a cornfield and went on to become one of the most famous supermodels of all time. Kate Moss was just 14 when she was scouted at JFK airport and Gisele Bündchen was scouted in McDonald's (yes, really.)

Fast forward to 2019, and this obsession with celebrity children has gone quite mad. It’s hard to walk past a beauty hall, newsstand or down a high street without seeing the faces of those who come from fashion dynasty.

Most recently criticism fell on Dazed magazine for featuring 16-year-old Lila Moss and their cover star, branding her cover ’16 years in the making’. Dazed’s CEO and co-founder is Lila’s father Jefferson Hack, the stylist for the shoot was her godmother Katy England, and she’s signed to the modelling agency owned by her mother Kate Moss.



Lila Moss is far from the only one. Iris Law (daughter of Jude Law and Sadie Frost) is the face of Burberry Cosmetics and has had fashion spreads in British Vogue; her brother Rafferty also walked for Dolce and Gabbana. Kaia Gerber was nominated for model of the year at the Fashion Awards last year, and of course, her mother Cindy Crawford - supermodel and world-famous icon - was there to cheer her on.  

Lily-Rose Depp is the face of Chanel, a title that was held by her mother Vanessa Paradis back in the ‘90s. She told Vogue that Chanel has always been a part of her life growing up: “My mom has worked with them since she was 18 and I’ve gone to the store with her since I was little.” Had she not grown up alongside Karl Lagerfeld, and had a childhood being surrounded by Chanel, would she have become the face of the brand? That’s open to interpretation.

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The most criticised of all ‘nepotism’ models is, of course, Kendall Jenner, who faced serious backlash after an extract of an interview she did with LOVE magazine was published on Instagram: “Since the beginning, we’ve been super selective about what shows I would do … I was never one of those girls who would do like 30 shows a season or whatever the fuck those girls do. More power to ’em. But I had a million jobs, not only catwalks but everything else. The whole combination was very overwhelming and I started to freak out a little bit and needed to take a step back.”

Fellow Victoria’s Secret model Leomie Anderson hit out at Jenner on Twitter, and supermodel Naomi Campbell simply replied “Next question” when she was asked about Jenner’s comments on What Happens Live.

This isn’t Kendall's only controversial comment - early on in her career she told LOVE: “I had to work even harder to get where I wanted because people didn’t take me seriously as a model. Because of the TV show.” But any true Kardashian fans will remember the episode (season 4, episode 7 for anyone who wants to catch up) where Kendall tells momager, Kris Jenner, she wants to be a model, and a mere few moments later she is signed and starring in campaigns and accuses younger sister Kylie of trying to steal her shine when she reveals she also wants to model.

There can be good points of nepotism models, however. For example, Adwoa Aboah is the daughter of model location scout Charles Aboah and Camilla Lowther, who runs one of the most successful creative industry management agencies in the world, but she uses her platform to talk about mental health and women’s issues. Hailey Bieber (daughter of Stephen Baldwin) has also used her position to publicly speak out about mental illness, which is an example of using privilege for good.

There’s no way this trend is going to stop, and with more celebrity children growing to the age that they can walk the catwalk expect to see more familiar faces across magazines. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have talent, and as long as they acknowledge their privilege and use it for good then the two sides of the modelling industry should be able to co-exist peacefully.

Lead Image - via Wikimedia Commons


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