Online model hunt in vogue but not all happy
AS CATWALK stars criss-cross the globe for fashion week season, modelling agencies are increasingly using social media to scout for new faces, sparking alarm among some.
Leading agencies such as IMG, Elite and Nevs, and fashion houses including Marc Jacobs, have all taken to sites such as photo-sharing service Instagram to recruit models, revolutionising the business.
Kate Moss was famously scouted while waiting for a flight in New York. Naomi Campbell was out shopping in London when she got a tap on the shoulder. But a move online appears to be heralding an end to such chance encounters... and casting studios.
IMG's campaign We Love Your Genes invites aspiring catwalk stars to post pictures on Instagram. It has attracted over 100,000 followers and led to the agency signing up models from "around the globe".
"There's no need to wait to get discovered at your local mall or in an airport, in the age of Instagram," IMG tells potential models on its website.
Its vice-president David Cunningham told Fashionista magazine that social media had "absolutely changed" the model agency business, slim-lining the recruitment process and reducing the fear factor for girls nervous about meeting agents face-to-face.
Said Jeni Rose, IMG's vice-president of scouting: "Instagram allows us to see potential models' natural beauty in their everyday lives. They no longer have to spend lots of money on photo shoots or portfolios."
United States fashion giant Marc Jacobs posted a casting call for its Spring/Summer 2015 campaign on Instagram, which was won by Singaporean Nadia Rahmat.
She told Agence France-Presse that social media was opening doors for models in locations previously off the fashion map.
"Social media has broken communication barriers that were previously almost impossible to get around," said the 25-year-old. "I don't think I would have received the opportunity if not for social media."
But some are concerned that encouraging adolescent girls to post selfies online could expose them to the darker forces of the Internet.
British MP Caroline Noakes, chairman of a parliamentary group on body image, said: "I am aware model agents routinely trawl social media to find new girls and my big concern is that proper regard must be taken to age.
"I am really worried that while we have a requirement that young people between 16 and 18 must be in education or training, this appears to be disregarded in the fashion industry.
"Unfortunately, with the age requirement for a Facebook account being only 13, this opens up the photographs of young people to everyone."
IMG - who, along with other top agencies Elite, Select, Models1 and Nevs, declined to comment - trumpets its Instagram recruitment of two 14-year-old models in the Netherlands and Sweden, and a "15-year-old beauty from London".
Potential models must also guard against rogue online agencies. "At the end of the day, it's about being smart," said Ms Nadia.
"Background checks are always important to make sure you don't get trapped in something."