Gender Pay Gap: Why Male Models Are Paid Less Than Female Models
This image is for representation purpose only. (Image Courtesy: Rajesh Kashyap)
Much has been spoken and written about the gender pay gap, but here is one industry in the country where men are actively discriminated against - fashion.
Models, designers and others in the profession who spoke to News18 said the difference in pay packets of male and female clotheshorses is appalling. The ratio at times is as bad as 1:3, though some foresee things getting better for the boys in the coming years as the segment picks up.
Fashion industry In India? Women dominated
"India has a fashion industry dominated by women. You have seen that at fashion weeks. The men lag behind, both in money and in the number of shows. Female models charge a bomb, we are not even close to these girls, says model Saud Khan.
Seasoned female models make more bucks
Aleem Siddiqui, who has worked for a top model agency in the past, confirms this: "The pay gap ranges from Rs 10-30 thousand depending on whether you are a senior or a fresher. If there’s a pool of 20 models, a seasoned female model will be paid Rs 15-20 thousand a day while a seasoned male model gets 5-12 thousand a day. It also depends on the nature of the shoot and of course, if they’re foreigners, they’ll be paid even more,” he says.
This means fewer men on the ramp, and the reasons according to agencies could be many - fewer designers foraying into menswear, main revenues generated from women’s collection or simply, less money being invested in men’s apparel and products.
Siddiqui points out that that campaigns of all leading designers, except Sabyasachi, are female-centric. "There is more money in female couture as compared to menswear. And since the wedding season will be here soon, women's attire are more in demand,” he adds.
Margin for menswear pales in comparison to women’s couture
Designer Dhruv Vaish, who is known for his wedding collection for men, explains why it is hard to account for the difference in margins. He says, “The margin for female creations is hard to account for because you don’t how much work goes into it - embellishments, embroidery and so much more. For menswear, it’s pretty straight out – just fabric and stitching. So one can’t command big margins.”
For every 20 designers for women there is only one for men, says Vaish, expressing hope that male models get more opportunities in the future.
But while modelling for men is not a great money-making option, it is a great stepping stone to a field where, ironically, the discriminatory pay gap is reversed - films.
“If you look at male models, a lot of them turned to acting. John Abraham, Sidharth Malhotra, Arjun Rampal, I feel that’s the best thing that can happen to them,” says Vaish.
Dearth of opportunities, intense competition
Well-known model Aishwarya Sushmita sympathises with the men, but also puts across the view that they make it worse for themselves by "getting desperate".
“Male models get a little desperate because the competition is intense and there’s a clear dearth of opportunities. In LFW, there are male models who walk the ramp for free. All they need is just the tag. If a designer has an option like this, he’ll opt for it."
A quick glance at figures on pay packets suggest the scene could be similarly loaded against male models in other parts of the world. For instance, in Forbes list of highest paid supermodels, Gisele Bundchen took home over US $47 million in 2013, while the top-earning male model Sean O’Pry, earned just over US $1.5 million that year.
Male models though feel that things are actually getting better for them. Says Saud Khan, “When I started, the ratio was 10:1, but things are gradually improving. There are many designers who want to focus on menswear and they’re eager to take male models. Men’s collection is a fast-growing trend. Maybe in 2-3 years, you’ll see a 1:1 ratio.”
Others in the industry may see that as a lot of optimism.
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