The Game Changers of the Modelling Industry

Fashion’s infatuation with the skinny, whitewashed, heteronormative image of perfection has been apparent for centuries. Now, an industry that once dictated perfection is rediscovering its meaning. Enter the new wave of game-changers, from innovative model booking platforms to agencies that celebrate difference, all aiming to defy the rigid views held by the industry. To align with the launch of issue six which focuses on all aspects of the body, we talk to the companies reflecting on the diverse beauty of the world around us. 

Finda – Mariya Grinina, Co-Founder 

Why did you start Finda and what is it about Finda that is different from other modelling platforms? 

I started Finda because of the difficulties I spotted in the modelling industry; the lack of transparency and the mistreatment of models. I understood these problems needed a modern solution, and that it could be found in applying new technology, smart people and a caring attitude – Enter Finda! 

There’s a new wave of independent and entrepreneurial models who rely on social media, technology and networking in their careers – we call them “modelpreneurs”, and we believe they are the future. On the Finda platform, they can negotiate day rates, create their portfolio and manage their bookings in an app on the go in a seamless and structured way.  Lastly, we believe in the power of meeting like-minded individuals to shape and excel in your career; this is why we founded ‘Finda Voices’ – a safe community for models to exchange experiences, advice and ideas.  

Why is it crucial for people to take ownership of their bodies when it comes to their career, especially in modelling? 

I think the #MeToo movement didn’t escape anyone, and sadly reflected the mistreatment and abuse which has been going on in many industries for years, including the modelling industry. In the modelling industry, models are often vulnerable and inexperienced. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Finda’s mission is to change that trend by providing tools for self-empowerment, information and community support, in order for models to develop confidence, an educated mind and build friendships to become successful modelpreneurs.  

Crumb Agency – Nat, Founder & Anna, Model 

“Our bodies are the vessel for everything we do, being physical, theoretical or spiritual; they are crucial to life, and I feel like the perception we have as a society of our bodies needs to be much more kind.” – Anna

Why did you join Crumb instead of another agency?  

Anna: I’ve always been in two minds about joining a model agency as one side of me felt I had everything it takes to work as a model, but the other side never felt like my body shape was perfect enough to do it professionally. When I saw Crumb it was like seeing what I’ve always looked for; I felt like I found the place I was meant to be. I just had to join! Crumb is just like a family that nurtures talent and diversity, and it encourages us to make our personalities shine through our image. 

Why is it crucial for people to take ownership of their bodies when it comes to their career, especially in modelling?  

Anna: Our bodies are the vessel for everything we do, being physical, theoretical or spiritual; they are crucial to life, and I feel like the perception we have as a society of our bodies needs to be much more kind. Everyone should have control over the way they look and feel, especially in a career like modelling where you have to put yourself out there physically and be vulnerable to judgement at all times. Be proud of your body!  

Why do you feel it is so important to champion diversity in fashion today? 

Nat: If fashion is to remain a dynamic and creative force in our lives it has to be a reflection of our values, lifestyles and also an expression of our aspirations. Society is more diverse than ever — a melting pot of racial and cultural influences. Fashion needs to reflect this diversity and serve as a driver to express and innovate. At Crumb, we represent reality and champion people as humans rather than putting them in a box or pigeonholing. 

Brother – Tyler, Model

“I think it is imperative we see a shift in the type of people that are in positions of power

Brother – Joey, Model

“Fat people exist, Black people exist, Disabled people exist, Muslim people exist, and Non-binary people exist.”

What is it about Brother that made you want to join? 

Joey: It aims to reflect today’s society. Our generation is full of incredibly beautiful people, of all different backgrounds that bring something really powerful to the table. Brother understands that beauty has more than one dimension, and it’s people like Michael Mayren and collectives like Brother that our generation is crying out for. Brother is breaking stereotypes by representing and pushing models that don’t fit said brief but yet have SO much beauty outside of old fashioned ideals.  

Why is it crucial for people to take ownership of their bodies when it comes to their career, especially in modelling? 

Joey: If we don’t take ownership, we will be stuck in the same cycle of oppression. Fat people exist, Black people exist, Disabled people exist, Muslim people exist, and Non-binary people exist. Body acceptance is a huge step towards ACTUAL diversity and inclusion. We need to stop marginalising people. Not everyone sees slim, white and polished as the definition of beauty anymore.  

Why do you feel it is so important to champion diversity in fashion today? 

Tyler: In the late 90s, more and more fashion platforms were featuring mixed raced children with light complexions. I believe this created a culture in which it became a fashion symbol to have a mixed raced baby based on aesthetics apposed to understanding the cultural aspects of raising a melanated child. That’s why I think it’s not only crucial to champion diversity in fashion but to champion diversity in fashion in the correct way, people telling their own stories, not one group of people telling other peoples stories. I think it is imperative we see a shift in the type of people that are in positions of power throughout as this chain reaction can be felt on every level ultimately changing the way the world views and treats people at face value. 

INC.MGMT – Nas, Founder & Lois, Model 

“The representation of marginalised groups in the fashion industry is non-existent; there is almost a detachment from a lot of these marginalised groups and engaging with the models put in front of us.” – Lois

What is INC.MGMT and how did it start?  

Nas & Kirby: We came up with the idea for INC after having a conversation about wanting to work for ourselves. The idea of a modelling agency came up naturally, and from there we tried to use the agency to create a platform that benefits our communities and challenges advertising and the fashion industry in the process. We feel diversity can and should be the norm throughout the fashion and creative industries. We wanted to establish INC.MGMT as a modelling agency that is sustainable and doing something to add to the conversation around inclusivity and demonstrating that it should not be confined to a trend but a part of a much more significant societal shift. 

Why do you feel it is so important to champion diversity in fashion today?  

Lois: The representation of marginalised groups in the fashion industry is non-existent; there is almost a detachment from a lot of these marginalised groups and engaging with the models put in front of us. The fashion industry needs to represent EVERYONE. It needs people of colour of different skin tones, trans people, people with different heights, non-binary people, people with different body shapes and different experiences. This is what INC is set to address and ensure that diversity within the fashion industry is the norm.  

Why is it crucial for people to take ownership of their bodies when it comes to their career, especially in modelling?  

Lois: Having the confidence to own our bodies is something society doesn’t encourage us to do so by learning to accept ourselves and the parts of our body society tells us not to love is all part of owning our bodies and existing loudly. Within modelling being able to show up and feel as confident as you can in your own body is something revolutionary in itself when society tells you to look a certain way. There is no wrong way to have a body and reminding yourself of that as a model is crucial.  

SLAY – Cecilio, Founder

“What’s more important is avoiding tokenism. Trans models are not a trend. They are part of the community we all live in, not just the fashion space but in every.” Cecilio 

Can you tell us a little bit about Slay?

Cecillio: Slay Model Management is the world’s first trans-exclusive model agency. We opened in 2016 and we are still standing in 2019. Our client list includes Law and Order: SVU on NBC, Project Runway on Bravo, Katy Perry Indi Fragrance, Macy’s, Vogue Germany, Spiegel, Macy’s, Marco Marco, Eva Mendes for NY and Co. etc

Why is it so crucial to have more trans representation in modelling today?  

Cecillio: Representation is indeed vital to us, however with the ever-changing landscape of modelling and media. What’s more important is avoiding tokenism. Trans models are not a trend. They are part of the community we all live in, not just the fashion space but in every. What’s important is being conscious of being a true ally, and normalising the Trans experience and having the consciousness that Trans people live amongst us. Having commercial brands such as food retail, home goods, is essential because Trans individuals should not just be seen in high fashion pieces as they are human beings who want the best for themselves. I was watching Project Runway the other day and one of our models, Mimi, is in it as the first Trans model on the show, and when the commercial break came on, it was Arisce on her Truvada ad. So while change is happening, there is room to grow and that later on, the models from SLAY will be seen as just models, and not as a niche in the fashion space.

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