Sunday, February 20, 2011

Immigration Rules Keeping Fashion Models Out

Top fashion models have no problem getting past velvet ropes. But getting over the border? That's apparently a problem, says the mayor.

Fashion industry leaders were forced to cancel some Fashion Week photo shoots because foreign-born models couldn't get into the country, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

"What's happened is the fashion people can't get their models over here. They start to cancel," Bloomberg told WOR's John Gambling during his weekly radio sit-down. He warned the nation's immigration rules, including hard-to-secure work visas and processing delays, threaten the city's fashion industry, which generates $9 billion in wages a year.

"The designers want to come over here and create jobs here and we're not letting them in. And the girls want to come here," said Bloomberg, a long-time supporter of immigration reform.

"We could lose this business very easily," he warned. The headaches have prompted 11 fashion leaders, including Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Saks Fifth Avenue and Perry Ellis to join Bloomberg's "Partnership for a New American Economy," which advocates for immigration reform.

"Fashion's next great talent could be born anywhere in the world," said von Furstenberg, a designer who was born in Belgium. "America was built by immigrants — and if we want to stay the global leader in fashion, then America must continue to welcome immigrants who bring to the industry new ideas, new businesses, and new energy," she said in a statement.

Faith Kates, the founder of NEXT Model Management and another new partner, agreed. "All too often, photo shoots in New York or elsewhere in America are cancelled or delayed because of visa problems," she said in a statement, adding that canceled shoots cost companies thousands of dollars as well as jobs.

Source: Digital Network Associates dba