Nepotism's Reign

As College Fashion Week approaches and global fashion week comes to an end, there’s no doubt which models dominated in New York, Paris, Milan, and London. Today’s most prominent names in the modeling industry are Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Kaia Gerber. They seem to be appearing all over on runways, magazine covers, and advertisements. Where did all these fashion superstars come from? To what do they owe their success? The answer is simple: nepotism.

Nepotism, according to Merriam-Webster, is “favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship”. Back when many consider modeling being the most iconic in the 1990s, many models such as Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford got their start. Each of these women found their way after starting from nothing and attending several castings before they got their big break. In 1993, Gisele was scouted by an Elite Model Management scouting agent but didn’t book her first show until 1998 with Alexander McQueen, and that was after going to 42 different London Fashion Week castings. Naomi Campbell first began in the industry at 7 years old, and Cindy Crawford didn’t find her footing in the industry until she took part in Elite Model Management’s Look of the Year contest, where she was runner-up.

Each of these now-supermodels worked hard to get to where they are today and faced several obstacles. Everyone gets their start somewhere, and this does not mean models like Gigi, Bella, Kendall, or Kaia do not work hard, they just had a much easier and quicker time making it big in the world of fashion. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of many nepotism models and their work, but it makes me wonder, is it because I see them everywhere or is it because they worked as hard as someone starting from scratch would?

Gigi and Bella Hadid are the daughters of former model and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, Yolanda Hadid, and real estate developer, Mohamed Hadid. Gigi and Bella were practically born into the classic celebrity life, connections at their fingertips. They shot to stardom, with designers begging for them to walk in their shows. The same goes for Kendall Jenner, beginning with her family reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford, took over runways during her first official fashion week season back in 2017. She immediately became the girl every designer wanted, thanks to her youth and her strikingly similar appearance to her mother. For each of these models, critics were harsh after their first steps into the limelight. Everyone can improve on things, but for them especially they were constantly being told they should do better, be better.

While these women are some of the lucky, chosen few to be recognized for their work and wanted by hit designers, some have trouble appreciating it. Recently Kendall Jenner struck controversy after an interview with Love Magazine. Her quote stated “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 f*ck those girls do.” And then adding, “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.” Many lesser-known models took offense to this, believing that often models do not have the luxury of choosing which shows they can and can’t do; they take anything they can get. Kendall later came out stating her comments misrepresented her and were misunderstood.

The big question that many people do not understand is why is nepotism so prominent in the industry if so many people are aware of it? When designers bring in models who are already known and have a large fan-base, the model is likely to publicize the event. This means the designer is reaching a much larger audience than it may have before the model publicized the event. It is all one big marketing strategy. There are some designers who owe their success for having models like Gigi or Kendall work for them. All in all, being a nepotism model doesn’t make them any less of a model, it truly is just a competitive industry where if you can’t keep up, you get left behind.