While models from all countries can get into financial difficulties, those from poorer nations can be more vulnerable.
“It’s like any worker who comes from abroad to a more prosperous economy,” says Ms Ozhiganova.
“There’s a big difficulty in language, they can’t read the paperwork, the contract. They are jumping into a void.”
Compounding the problem, the pool of aspiring models is so large that work is spread thinly and pay can be very low.
Some jobs in magazines, for example, are unpaid. Otherwise fees can range from £50 a day, to £1,000 or more for a taking part in a show during a fashion week or tens of thousands for featuring in a brand’s campaign.
However, model debt is not debt in any ordinary sense of the term, says John Horner, director of the British Fashion Models Association, representing UK agencies.
If a young model fails to make it and leaves the industry, she isn’t pursued for the money she “owes” he says. Instead the agency writes off the investment.
“It is not hanging round the models like [UK payday loan provider] Wonga,” he says. “We carry the debt.”
He says the London-based agency he runs, Models 1, has £60,000 of models’ debt sitting on its books, which may never be paid off, if the models’ careers don’t take off.
He says agencies are obliged to give models monthly itemised bills listing the charges to their accounts, but he’s not sure they always get read.
Most successful models soon pay off the initial investment and start earning on their own account, he says.
Esther Kinnear-Derungs is the co-founder of Linden Staub, a small agency set up in London three years ago to pioneer ways to treat models better.
She says that advancing and recouping costs is the “nature of the business”.
The problem is the girls are seen as “disposable” by many agencies, she says, and it’s an open secret that at fashion weeks some big agencies take the approach that hundreds of girls can be “thrown against the wall to see what sticks”.
She says it’s often girls from eastern Europe who are most vulnerable.
Their parents are happy to send them abroad, believing it’s their “big break”, and they don’t ask enough questions. The girls themselves have no experience at managing their own finances or careers.
“We believe we have a responsibility to educate the model from day one, whether she was scouted in Siberia, Africa or London,” says Ms Kinnear-Derungs.