Sara Ziff

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Sara Ziff
Sara Ziff 2012 Shankbone.JPG
BornNew York, NY, United States
Alma materColumbia University, Harvard University
Executive Director, Model Alliance

Sara Ziff is an American fashion model, filmmaker, and labor activist. She is the founder and executive director of the Model Alliance, a nonprofit organization in New York City.

Early life and education[edit]

Sara Ziff was born and raised in New York City. Ziff attended the Bronx High School of Science and the Dalton School. Ziff graduated with a B.A. in Political Sciences, magna cum laude from Columbia University, and she earned her M.P.A. at Harvard Kennedy School.[1][2][3]

Modeling career[edit]

Ziff has appeared as the face of advertising campaigns for companies including Tommy Hilfiger, Kenzo, Stella McCartney, and Kenneth Cole. She has walked in runway fashion shows for brands such as Prada, Chanel, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Chloé and Alexander McQueen.[4]

Filmmaking and writing[edit]

With her co-director Ole Schell, Ziff chronicled her modeling journey in the award-winning documentary Picture Me.[5][6][7] The film gives an inside look into the modeling industry, showing the highs and lows of a seemingly glamorous business. After Picture Me, Ziff directed a three-part web mini-series[8] for the modeling blog of New York Magazine, "The Cut".[9] In 2014, Ziff released the preview of "Tangled Thread," a documentary about Bangladesh's garment industry and women organizing for better working conditions across the supply chain.[10]

She has contributed as an op-ed columnist for The New York Times,[11] Equal Times,[12] and The Guardian.[13]


Ziff is an advocate for better working conditions in the modeling industry, which she has described as "an overlooked frontier of women's rights and workers' rights."[14][15] In 2012, she formed the Model Alliance, a non-profit organization that advocates for fair labor standards for models working in the American fashion industry. In 2013, under Ziff's leadership, the Model Alliance championed the Child Model Act in New York State, which reclassified models under 18 as child performers and extended them basic labor protections, including provisions for educational requirements, maximum working hours, and trust accounts.[16] New York Magazine declared her "the Norma Rae of the runway" and the AFL-CIO called her "America's next top role model."[17][18]

In 2012, Ziff became involved with Save the Children, a non-governmental organization that promotes children's rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries. At the United Nations, Ziff introduced the organization's global flagship report, "A Life Free From Hunger – Tackling Childhood Malnutrition."[19]

In 2012, Ziff began campaigning for better working conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh. In September, 2013, she joined other fashion models and labor rights activists at New York Fashion Week to encourage Nautica to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.[20]


In 2012, Ziff was honored by the blog Jezebel as one of "The Jezebel 25," a group of "game-changing women" who embody the site's feminist ideals.[21]

In 2013, Ziff was awarded the Susan B. Anthony award by the National Organization for Women for her dedication to improving the lives of young women and girls in New York City.[22]

In 2014, Ziff was awarded the 1st Inspiration and Visionary award by the Women & Fashion Film Festival for her leadership and work empowering women and girls in the fashion industry.[23]


  1. ^ Jothianandan, Shakthi (2012-01-27). "134 Minutes With Sara Ziff". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  2. ^ Greenhouse, Steven (December 23, 2013). "A New Alliance Steps Up to Protect a New Generation of Models". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Aron, Hillel (2016-02-26). "Lawmakers' Bill Wants to Stop Anorexia in Fashion Models". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  4. ^ "Sara Ziff – Fashion Model – Profile on New York Magazine". 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  5. ^ Quraishi, Jen (2009-08-28). "Top Model Tells All". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  6. ^ Guardian Article
  7. ^ Verrechia Films: Picture Me
  8. ^ Moss, Hilary (2010-09-23). "Sara Ziff's 'Picture Me' Mini-Series: Models Told To Eat Half A Rice Cake, Cotton Balls (VIDEO)". Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  9. ^ Exclusive Video: Sara Ziff’s Picture Me Mini-series, Sept 13, 2010 New York Magazine
  10. ^ Milligan, Lauren (2014-04-24). "Inside Fashion's New Frontier". Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  11. ^ "Regardless of Age, It's About Rights". The New York Times. 2012-11-12.
  12. ^ Ziff, Sara. "More Than a Minor Issue: Child Labour During Fashion Week".
  13. ^ Ziff, Sara (2012-02-13). "The ugly truth of fashion's model behaviour – Sara Ziff – Fashion". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  14. ^ Odell, Amy (December 21, 2010). "Sara Ziff Is Forming an Alliance to Advocate for Model Rights". New York Magazine.
  15. ^ Goldwert, Lindsay (December 21, 2010). "Sara Ziff says models need legal protections, workplace rights, access to health insurance". New York Daily News.
  16. ^ Harris, Paul (2012-02-01). "Model Sara Ziff to launch workers' rights organisation for fashion industry | Fashion |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  17. ^ Goodman, J. David (2012-02-08). "Models aren't 'coat hangers,' new rights group says – style". Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  18. ^ Hall, Mike (2014-04-14). "Sara Ziff: America's Next Top Role Model". Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  19. ^ "Terrific Initiative from Save The Children – Tackling Child Malnutrition!". NCD Group – NCD Childcare. Archived from the original on 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  20. ^ "Fashion Models Join with Bangladeshi Labor Rights Leader Calling on Nautica to Sign Fire & Building Safety Accord". Archived from the original on 2013-10-21.
  21. ^ "Jezebel 25".
  22. ^ "Ziff Awarded Susan B. Anthony Award". Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  23. ^ "Activist Ziff on her warrior fight for garment workers and fashion models".

External links[edit]