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Has This Era of Nepo Babies Turned the Runway Into a Publicity Stunt?

Is the era of discovering beautiful models in random places dead?

Models walk the runway finale at the Versace show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 on September 22, 2017 in Milan, Italy. Shutterstock.
Models walk the runway finale at the Versace show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 on September 22, 2017 in Milan, Italy. Image: Shutterstock/Fashionstock

Is the era of discovering beautiful models in random places dead? Looking at AW23 seasons catwalks or glancing through the latest Vogue would indicate yes. Nepo babies seem to be taking over the fashion industry.

Long gone seem to be the days of models being scouted on the streets of London. Although nepotism is nothing new, with the likes of the Hadid sisters and Kendall Jenner, and even looking at actresses like Dakota Fanning and Emma Roberts, it is now becoming more apparent that almost every model you see is some celebrity’s child. Many people who work in the fashion industry, including aspiring models, are crying out for change, this era of nepo babies has made the catwalk dull and predictable. 

What is a nepo baby?

Nepo babies are a hot and controversial topic, especially on social media. The term ‘nepo baby’ refers to a celebrity’s child or relative with an automatic advantage or ‘leg up’ within their career. Now with nepo babies getting the ‘top jobs,’ those people who have worked hard within the industry are being pushed aside. Any job in the fashion industry is notoriously hard to get, never mind succeed. When we look back at the ninety’s runway and the likes of Kate Moss (mother a barmaid and dad an airline employee) and Cindy Crawford (mother a bank clerk and father an electrician) being discovered, most models didn’t come from a wealthy background, they didn’t have famous relatives, and their hard work showed on the runway. 

When you look at how some models carry themselves on the runway and how they walk, compared to a nepo baby who has simply been given the job because they are someone’s daughter, the difference is noticeable and embarrassing. Unfortunately, nepotism in the fashion industry is more than just accepted, its celebrated.

Social medias controversial debate over nepo babies

This is a controversy that has kicked up a storm on social media, especially TikTok. Many people comment on videos of nepo babies saying, “if their parents weren’t rich, they would all be working in Starbucks”. Which might well be true. Does Lila-Grace Moss look like a model who would be discovered in an airport? Yes, she’s pretty, her mother is Kate Moss, but if she wasn’t, would she be a household name, probably not. 

A lot of the anger that people have towards nepo babies is how tone-deaf they can be. Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of famous actor Johnny Depp, stirred controversy last December when she stated in an interview with Elle Magazine that she was not a nepo baby. “If somebody’s mom or dad is a doctor, and then the kid becomes a doctor, you’re not going to be like, ‘Well, your only a doctor because your parent is a doctor.’ Lily-Rose Depp is an ambassador for Chanel and has been in the spotlight ever since she was a child, her success in the fashion and acting industry has everything to do with privilege. That can be said for many rising nepo babies, they have no appreciation for their privilege and therefore do not strive to work hard at even the opportunities they have been given. 

A few nepo babies you might of heard of

Iris Law – Daughter of actors Jude Law and Sadie Frost

Iris Law at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center. Picture: Paul Smith-Featureflash/Shutterstock.

Lila Moss – Daughter of Kate Moss

 Lila Moss attends a party hosted by British Vogue to celebrate Self Portrait at The MAINE Mayfair in London, England. Shutterstock.

Eve Jobs – Daughter of Steve Jobs

Eve Jobs at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, CA. Shutterstock.

Lennon Gallagher – Son of Liam Gallagher 

Lennon Gallagher attends The Fashion Awards 2022 at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Shutterstock.

Is a nepo baby in fashion really the worst?

When it comes down to it, does it matter? Both nepo babies and models have a ‘leg up’ regarding DNA, either born extremely hot or born into a rich or famous family. Maybe it isn’t the fault of nepo babies as to why the recent AW23 catwalks are turning boring, maybe it’s because the catwalks are turning into a marketing tool. The runway is no longer just a place to show off the latest fashion trends but a business tool for publicity, and who better fills that role than nepo babies? Nepo babies need to step up and acknowledge and appreciate their privilege. Having interviews claiming they are self-made will do them no favors. 

Written By

Student at Manchester Metropolitan University studying a master's in Luxury Fashion Management.

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