How Instagram created a new age of model

HQ /
Aug 29, 2017 / Style

Before street-casting, elite, high-end modelling agencies were the only way toward the fashion runway.

Now, however the industry is full of agencies not just representing fashion royalty, but also representing models from the – whisper it – ‘real world’. Street-casting agencies are representing models with more than just a ‘pretty face’, helping to welcome a new kind of demographic to the fashion industry in the process: this is a new-age of model, where personality reigns supreme.

Start-up modelling agency Anti-agency (aptly named, you’ll note), is probably the best-known reaction against the traditional. But, they are one among many agencies representing what the fashion world needs. Other street-casting groups such as SLAY, Tommorow is Another Day and MiLK are providing fashion weeks with a plethora of models that defy the norm.

The manner in which these agencies tend to scout is proof that the industry is, albeit slowly, attempting to keep up with changing times. It’s all too obvious that the fashion landscape has changed within the last decade, with the rise of social media, the accessibility that agencies now have to scout a new face is extraordinary. With a reported one million selfies uploaded each day to Instagram, agencies have an abundance of faces to scout from.

You don’t need me to explain the success of Instagram, but it really is a main contender in the way that models are now being discovered. With 75% of Instagram users coming from outside of the United States, the global reach means that model scouts can see a face within seconds of falling onto a handle. Models picked out through Instagram often have a larger following the fashion-week veteran: the likes of Iskra Lawrence, Charlie Barker and Joanna Kuchta were all scouted through Instagram and are now holding top fashion campaigns with some of the largest brands and labels across the world. All of which, no less, aspire to a target a younger, post-digital generation. An Instagram page is now, not only an extension of a model’s portfolio, but also their social influence.

So this actually happened. @joycebonelli is a legend👑

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As High Snobiety noted in a feature last year: “In December 2014 fashion behemoth IMG Models even launched a talent scouting campaign called We Love Your Genes, where young girls could post selfies using their hashtag to make the scouting job easier. As of today, it has been used almost 75,000 times.”  Models that were scouted through the #WLYG campaign have gone on to appear in editorials in the September issue of W Magazine and walk in shows for Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

With this socially-aware market, street-casting agencies are providing big labels and designers with more than just a face. Many agencies are now creating a place for the model to promote themselves to big brands through their personality, rather than an image. Betsy Shrader, an agent and booker from Wilhelmina explained: “Social media, particularly Instagram, allows a client to see another layer of a model; their personality, candid shots with friends, their lifestyle and interests, and what they look like on a day to day basis.”

In unison with this, brands are beginning to search for models that are going to create a more adaptable brand, something that it going to reflect with the audience. Therefore, ushering in a more profitable audience and expanding the demographic. The avid personality profiles of models within the digital landscape are seeing brands securing millions of potential customers eager to follow their model’s lead.

Casting director, Noah Shelley, spoke about the use of Instagram for casting models for the likes of Yeezy Season 1, Rick Owens and Preen. Speaking to The Cut, he explained: “Somebody would say, “Oh we need an ‘It’ girl for something,” and I’d wonder how to find those girls. Then Instagram skyrocketed the whole thing, because you can follow someone.

These people have followers, so they’re already generating fame on their own.


Words by HQ

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