After being the target of price fixing allegations last year, an array of London-based modeling agencies are back in the spotlight thanks to an ongoing investigation by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). According to the consumer protection-focused government arm, Storm Model Management, Models 1, Premier Model Management, Viva and FM Models have been formally accused of colluding to fix prices and demand higher fees from retailers and other brands. The CMA further held that the agencies were in the practice of exchanging confidential information and uniformly rejecting client fees in order to obtain more lucrative deals.
The companies were sent statements of objections Wednesday and regulators won’t decide on any fines until they respond. Customers who may have been overcharged - which the CMA says include high-street chains, online fashion retailers and consumer goods brands - could then seek compensation. The French competition authority is also probing model agencies including Elite. “The CMA alleges that these five model agencies sought to achieve higher prices in negotiations with their customers by colluding instead of competing,” said Stephen Blake, the authority’s senior director of cartels and criminal.
Storm Model Management (which reps Jourdan Dunn, Anna Ewers, Behati Prinsloo Levine, Eva Herzigova, Cindy Crawford and Karolina Kurkova, amongst others and which launched the careers of Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne), Premier Model Management (which has Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Bar Refaeli, and top men’s faces like Simone Nobili and go-to Givenchy model Filip Hrivnak) and Models 1 (which has Anne V, Linda Evangelista, Olivia Palermo, and Amber and Yasmine Le Bon on its board) were the subject of a police raid in August 2015 amid allegations that they are engaged in price fixing. According to a formal statement from the CMA in August: "The CMA has opened an investigation into suspected anti-competitive arrangements in the UK clothing, footwear and fashion sector which may infringe Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union."