The fashion industry has largely reduced beauty to one size, shape, height, and race for a very long time. Ever since the days "heroin chic" in the nineties, the fashion industry has lacked diversity. All to often, we see the same girls on the runway and in the magazines. 5"10. Size zero. White. Is this what "beauty" looks like to everyone around the world? Top modelling agency IMG seems to have recognised that it is not.
IMG, which represents everyone from Gisele to Joan Smalls to Kate Upton, is now set to starting signing models regardless of their shape, size, age, race, and height. If you've got the talent, they'll sign you. "We want to be an ageless, raceless, weightless agency," IMG Models Senior Vice President and Managing Director Ivan Bart said. "We just want to represent the best people in the industry."
These new signees will sit alongside the agency's current models, giving a size 10, 5' 5" model the same importance as a size zero, 5'11 one - finally, one of the biggest, most influential companies in fashion is making a massive move to show that beauty goes far beyond squeezing into sample sizes.
"I feel like the consumer wants to see themselves," said Bart. "Sure, there are women who are naturally thin and can fit into sample sizes, and the plus size market begins at a size 12, but where is the average consumer represented from a size 2 to 10?"
"We just want to represent the best," he continued. "With this new way of thinking, I can tell women who work so hard to get into the sample size, 'Eat! Be yourself, just be the best you can be — exactly how you are!' For us, as long as the talent is at a healthy weight that he or she and his or her doctor believe is right for them, and they're exercising, since that's a healthy way of life, then the industry should reflect that."
Bart has pointed out that you don't need to be a size zero to be successful in the modelling industry, siting Tara Lynn as his an example. Lynn is a "plus-size" model represented by IMG, and has been getting amazing, steady work throughout her career, including Italian Vogue and French Elle, and is the current cover star of Spanish Elle.
"You can stand outside with a picket sign, but I feel like the best way is to change the industry is from within," he said. "We might not win in certain aspects of it and it might take a while for companies to adapt to what we're trying to do, because we still have to work with the industry and if they ask for a sample size, we have to deliver."
Bart is also working to mold IMG into an ageless agency, stating: "At IMG, if you’re a talented model, we’re going to work with whatever you are." IMG represents Kate Moss, one of the biggest earners in the busines, who turns 40 in January and recently signed Christie Brinkley, the legendary supermodel whose career is still soaring at the age of 59. IMG's impressive list of older models also includes 83-year-old beauty China Machado, the current face of Cole Haan. "At 83 years old, she is more vibrant and has more personality than most people," Bart said.
The agency is already one of the most diverse in terms of race, but Bart is still not satisfied, "We’ve always tried to find the most diversely beautiful women in the world, and we can always do better," he said. "But as of now, we do represent a lot of the top African American, Brazilian, and Asian models."
The agency's men's division will also continue to grow, "Young men today moisturize because that’s what you do," Bart explained. "They also have a great love for clothing and apparel, so we needed a representation of men that the market could connect to."
IMG can't change the definition of beauty on its own, and hopefully the rest of the fashion world will join. "I’m not saying that everyone is going to be receptive to it, but we’re going to try."
Diversity IS Beauty.
Lots of love,