Right now, in a bid to stand up to the streaming giants and movie executives (and in the hope of improving pay and working conditions for themselves), hundreds of thousands of writers and actors are currently striking in Hollywood. And now, the celebrity stylists who dress many of these stars for their biggest red-carpet moments are also unionising in order to better protect their own rights.
The Celebrity Stylist Union has been formed as part of BECTU (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) and has seen a number of UK-based celebrity stylists form together in order to better protect their rights, something which founder Michael Miller believes is imperative right now.
"Now is the time to stand up for ourselves," he says. "Many are suffering in silence and feel powerless to stand up to the film industry and streaming services. It's corrupt, unfair and our aim in launching this union is we can start to shift the dial in a positive direction."
There is currently no legislation in place to offer protection or advice within this section of the fashion industry. In fact, there are very few protections afforded to freelance fashion workers in general. According to Miller, it is rare for any contracts or terms and conditions to ever be exchanged between stylist and client, many are working below minimum wage and are having to front large expense budgets with the promise of being paid in due course. "There is simply no regulation and we hope we can begin to change that," he says.
The end goal is to try and unionise fashion freelancers as a whole. Miller hopes that photographers, hair and make-up artists, creative directors, set designers, tailors and assistants will be able to use the CSU as a template to set up their own unions so that creatives everywhere can stand up for their rights. He wants them to have better pay, better, more secure working conditions and more respect for what they do.
"Time and time again we are not compensated fairly or credited for the work we do," he says. "We are an incredibly important part in forming the public image of our clients, as well as this we build relationships between our clients and brands. Not only do we help build our clients' star power and public persona by what they wear, but we also increase their visibility to peers, directors, casting directors, producers, labels, and in doing so we also help their bank balance too. Perhaps it’s time they help us."
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