Yesterday the world took notice of Apple Model Management, the company from Thailand that has moved to LA and created the world’s first entirely trans agency. It’s no secret that attitudes in casting are undergoing a quiet revolution – whether it’s in terms of trans models like Hari Nef and Andreja Pejić setting records, new faces like Aya Jones and Lineisy Montero bringing diversity to traditionally white runways or the #DropthePlus movement campaigning to end sizeism. But there’s still a long way to go – especially when it comes to greater representation. Taking matters into their own hands are independent agencies, springing up across the world to showcase their communities and act as a grassroots counterbalance to the giants of the industry. Here are three to get familiar with:
Welcome to detention. So reads the site of the Canadian Detention Agency, whose remit is repping “the underdogs”. Based in Vancouver, the company puts diversity at the top of its manifesto, accepting applicants of all races, heights, and genders, and divides models (or as they call them, anti fashion models) into ‘seniors’ and ‘freshmen’.
With models plucked from the sweaty crowds of Moscow nightclubs, the streets and of course through social media, Russian street cast agency Lumpen is a challenge to the idea that fashion is the sole territory of the rich and pretty. Taking its name from a word that means common, it's books are a celebration of models whose beauty is unique and unusual, and distinctly post soviet. As founder Avdotja Alexandrova told us, “Once a boy came to me and said: ‘So, the era of freaks is here? You collect freaks?’ And I said, ‘I don't think they are freaks, I think they are all amazingly beautiful.’”
“I hope that through the Internet people all over the world are getting more acquainted with all types of people, faces and identities and starting to realise how insular fashion is.” So said Nafisa Kaptownwala, founder of London based agency Lorde Inc to Dazed earlier this year. With the agency's books focusing only on models of colour and not listing things like height or measurements, they are a refreshing challenge to an industry that still sees thin white girls as a standard when it comes to beauty.