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Modelling’s fresh faces talk the future of the industry

Photography by Kristina Valdez

Fresh faces with big ideas.

We sent photographer Kristina Valdez to this year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival casting to ask new faces about where they see the future of the industry.

The modelling industry has seen a lot of change over the last few years – there’s increased demands for diversity and representation, and industry standards regarding age have shifted. In line with this, Virgin Australia Fashion Festival has increased the minimum age of models to 18 this year, upping it from 16.

Changes like these go a long way to ensuring the safety of models, and now more than ever we need to hear their perspective on what needs to change in the industry. Here’s what four young models see as the way forward.

What’s your name and how old are you? 

Alex Rendell, I’m 22 years old.

How long have you been modelling for?

Approximately three years.

What do you think of the modelling industry now? What is working and what needs to change?

It’s an interesting industry to work in. There are obviously incredible opportunities that come out of it, but there is also a lot of manipulation as well as predatory people ready to take advantage of you.

What do you think will happen to the modelling industry in the coming years?

Hopefully a healthier industry with more transparency and accountability.

If you became the editor of a fashion magazine tomorrow, what’s the story you’d want to tell everyone?

I’d give the position to someone who has a story worth telling instead.

What’s your name and how old are you?

Machar Mayor, I’m 23.

How long have you been modelling for?

I’ve been modelling for about two or three years now.

What do you think of the modelling industry now? What is working and what needs to change?

My current thoughts on the modelling industry are that it’s extremely competitive and secretive in moments but, in contrast to that, it’s very obvious that everyone is trying to make an effort to be more inclusive. There’s still room for improvement though, and I would love to see more people of colour given an opportunity.

What do you think will happen to the modelling industry in the coming years? 

I feel the modelling industry is moving towards becoming a more inclusive and accepting platform, but that future still feels very distant at times.

If you became the editor of a fashion magazine tomorrow, what’s the story you’d want to tell everyone?

If I was to become a fashion editor, the first story I would probably tell would be my own personal story and journey into the industry. It involved a number of setbacks and disappointments, but in the end, it worked out for the best. I feel like my experience is quite relatable for a number of people.

What’s your name and how old are you?

My name’s Clare Walker, I’m 18 years old.

How long have you been modelling for?

Four years. I started when I was 14.

What do you think of the modelling industry now? What is working and what needs to change?

Something that I love about the industry now is that it celebrates the individuality of models. Interesting appearances, unique personal styles and quirky personalities are embraced and even sought after by clients. It has encouraged me to be myself and not really care what people think about me. In terms of change, I would love to see a stricter age limit enforced so that models can’t be signed to an agency or begin working until they’re old enough. I started modelling when I was 14 and I had some amazing experiences, but I still think I could have waited until now – when I am more mature and confident – to have started my career.

What do you think will happen to the modelling industry in the coming years? 

I believe there will be improvements in diversity within the modelling industry. I also see greater protection for models being developed, especially following the introduction of the #metoo movement. There’s a huge outcry for these changes on social media, so I’m sure the industry will respond. There are already good examples of these things happening, so hopefully, that’s a sign of what’s to come!

If you became the editor of a fashion magazine tomorrow, what’s the story you’d want to tell everyone?

I’d love to just tell people about my experience, and those of my friends in the industry. I think this would really work to debunk the stigma and myths that surround modelling. Being a model in high school lead to a lot of questions from friends – which is fine, I would have done the same. But it made me realise just how warped people’s perception of the modelling industry really is. Modelling, for the most part, is full of fun and opportunity. But at the end of the day, it’s a job too. It’s not about glamour, it’s about showcasing someone’s hard work. Not many people realise that.

What’s your name and how old are you?

My name is Nikita Christos Chronis and I’m 20 years old.

How long have you been modelling for?

I’ve been properly modelling for about a year, but have done the odd shoot and runway in the past.

What do you think of the modelling industry now? What is working and what needs to change?

Modelling provides an opportunity for designers to showcase their work and creativity, and I believe that the industry will continue to grow by naturally adapting to its target market.  

What do you think will happen to the modelling industry in the coming years? 

The industry will undoubtedly evolve with current trends and continue to satisfy the creative desires of consumers and designers alike.

If you became the editor of a fashion magazine tomorrow, what’s the story you’d want to tell everyone?

I’d love to tell stories of up and coming designers and models, capturing the passion and love at the grassroots of the industry.

You can find more info on this year’s VAMFF program here.

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