Why are drugs so rife in the fashion industry?


Over the years there have been so many examples of supermodels suffering from drug abuse. Similar to hospitality, there’s a strong reputation fashion has with drugs, dating back generations, with multiple examples of huge stars struggling to deal with the likes of cocaine and alcohol.

In fact, think of any major supermodel, and there will be some story from drugs, with the likes of Anna Nicole Smith, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell all having sought help with addiction, and they’re just a handful of many.

But why exactly is there such a toxic relationship between the fashion industry and substance abuse?

The answer is similar to why many other industries have problems with it, and that is to do with the pressures of the role and the heavy workload it involves, particularly during major events.

Around the various fashion weeks in particular, it’s an intense period of time and models can be working for well over 12 hours, complete with parties and aftershows, making drug abuse rife.

George Cortina, a renowned stylist and fashion journalist, has spoken out previously about the problem with drugs in the industry and said that if you’ve not seen drug abuse during fashion weeks, then “you’re wearing a blindfold”.

It’s almost part and parcel, and there are a number of code words for drugs at parties. For example, “do I smell Chanel” is code for asking whether somebody has cocaine, while there are a number of others that are so ingrained within the fashion community.

It’s a problem that continues to be ignored, and there is little support for models that need help with addiction, being cast aside when outed in public for their problem, rather than getting them the help they need.

Kate Moss is one of the biggest examples of this, causing a huge scandal back in 2005 when she was caught on camera taking cocaine. She lost over $4million in contracts, being dropped from the likes of Chanel, Burberry and H&M. She’s spoken candidly about that time, including why she turned to drugs and how she did get help.

One of the main problems is the image that is expected of models, particularly females. Catwalk models are expected to be thin, no matter what that takes and weight is scrutinised intensely. Alongside this, they’re working hard and believe that drugs are the only way to firstly, keep going, and secondly, maintain that figure.

It’s of course a very unhealthy relationship between fashion and drugs, and even since 2005, 18 years ago, not enough has changed to help improve the industry. The space is starting to improve with small steps, but it’s still an incredibly dark space and there will undoubtedly be more problems arising before it hits breaking point and the situation improves.