Models. The fashion industry would not be what it is without these crucial industry players. I know, models are perceived to be tall, pretty women with not much else to offer other than their bodies for commercial purposes. Although, in principle, models are used to promote, display and/or advertise commercial products, there are assets to the industry. Think about it, if we didn’t have models, how would have designers over decades shown us, the customers how their collections look like and why we should buy them or simply desire them. Could the impact of the image and story portrayed in the image below have been achieved with mannequins?
Perhaps you disagree with me and that is fair, which is what this month is all about, a healthy discussion and a learning experience. How does the modeling industry fair in Kenya? Well, we will also find that out. We have had the pleasure of featuring Tina Masese, fashion model and designer, who shared with us the ins and outs of being a model and how to work in Kenya. She stated in her interview with us that “in Kenya, people see modeling as an easy way out from an ordinary job. They don’t see modeling as a real job. Some think that being a model means being skinny, tall, sleeping in, waking up to go take some photos, get on a billboard, get paid 500,000 and be in the papers.” Is that what you think?
We delve into the world of the fashion model and look into what it really means, and how to build a successful long-lasting modeling career. Yes, it is a real job and certainly not as glamorous as we all think. Think of it this way: how long does it take you to take and select the perfect selfie for your social media or to share with someone? Now imagine that process in large scale, flying to different countries with a crew of photographers, agency and creative directors barking orders and pressure beyond words to get the right image within a certain budget with 14 hour long photo shoots running for three days. Could you do it?. These photo’s are not as effortless as you think.
I guess this will be a good place to start; why are models considered an immaterial and affective labor. We all know the super models like Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bündchen, Alek Wek, Coca Rocha, Alessandra Ambrosio and Ethiopian born Liya Kebede. So what does it take to become a super model? In an industry of one-hit wonders and instant gratification, what does it take to brand yourself and have staying power? Think about how model Gigi Hadid has over 17 million followers on instagram who nonetheless understands that modeling is a career. She stated in an interview with W Magazine, “I have always been aware of the business side of this industry. I’ve always seen it as a career that required work and planning.” Fashion Models, like other careers, have specializations like runway model, commercial ads, high-end fashion editorials and each requiring a different set of skills.
The modeling industry has had its fair share of controversies from gender and racial diversity on the runway, body image issues and the perpetuation of unachievable standards for the masses to, as Tina Masese highlighted for us, abuse of power by agencies and underpayment. Should we then start regulating this industry to protect our models in this country? This month, we will look into issue of hypersexualization of models, plus size models and we will speak to a few models to get their insight into the modeling industry internationally and in Kenya.
There is more than meets the eye in being a fashion model and we are here to find out. Are y’all ready? I sure am.
Have a great month everyone.
Author: Wanjiku N. M | Editor and Founder of TDS | Twitter: @WanjikuNM