The American stamp of approval in the modelling industry

New York is the centre of the modelling universe - here's why.

Chinese model Jing Wen (Supreme) for   Teen Vogue   February 2015 by Jason Kibbler. Wen has also appeared in campaigns for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. 

Chinese model Jing Wen (Supreme) for Teen Vogue February 2015 by Jason Kibbler. Wen has also appeared in campaigns for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. 

By Natalia Zurowski

There's no denying the incredible amount of influence the United States has when it comes to determining market trends. In respect to modelling, New York is the epicentre of the industry - the same can be said when it comes to fashion and design. Before they've learned much else about the industry, new models already know that New York is where careers are made. If they're successful in New York and receive the American stamp of approval, their careers can flourish.

Whether the US is a fashion innovator is up for debate, but it's an undeniable economic powerhouse. Ranging from high end clients, beauty brands, and e-commerce giants, the US is home to some of fashion's top brands and companies such as: Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, The Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Maybelline, Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret, and so forth. These clients don't only pay top dollar, but also act as prestigious endorsements of a model's caliber and relevance to other clients, agencies, and the media. 

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Elsa Hosk is latest model to sign Victoria's Secret "Angel" contract

26-year-old Elsa Hosk has been working for American lingerie giant Victoria's Secret since 2011. Today, her representatives at IMG Models announced that Hosk was the latest model to receive the "Contract Angel" title.

Elsa Hosk (far right) for Victoria's Secret Swim 2015 |  Source

Elsa Hosk (far right) for Victoria's Secret Swim 2015 | Source

Elsa Hosk at the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show |  Source

Elsa Hosk at the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show | Source

Previously, Hosk served as brand ambassador for the company's Pink line for two consecutive years. Hosk is from Sweden and has been modelling since the age of 14.

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Model's suit against NY agency could have broad implications for labour practices

Nekesha McCary is suing Direct Model Management for thousands of dollars in back wages. She alleges that DMM illegally miscast her as an independent contractor instead of an employee. 

This and other pending litigation could have broad implications for models and agencies. Models are widely considered to be independent contractors; this has historically been the primary obstacle to formal unionization for models.

Nekesha McCary |  FMD

Nekesha McCary | FMD

Nekesha McCary |  FMD

Nekesha McCary | FMD

New York Daily News reports:

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Nekesha McCary, 33, of Harlem says Direct Model Management saved thousands by classifying her as an independent contractor when she signed on with the agency in August 2009.
She is demanding more than $30,000 in back wages and other unspecified damages.
McCary says that modeling agencies across the industry have financially abused models by treating them as contractors instead of employees.
Agencies don't have to pay contractors minimum wage, overtime or Social Security taxes or pay for worker's comp insurance in the same way they would for regular employees.
“These NYC modeling agencies’ collective evasion of wage and hour protections have resulted in millions of dollars in lost wages to these ... models and ... millions ... in illegal profits for these ... agencies,” the new lawsuit charges.
McCary’s lawyer, Michael Steger, argues that McCary was an employee because DMM required her to sign an exclusive contract with them, making it impossible for her to work for any other agency.
He says DMM told her where to appear for photo shoots and how to dress and groom herself for clients like L’Oreal, for whom McCary posed in 2009 for hair beauty products.
Court papers also charge that DMM, like most other modeling agencies in the city, deliberately misclassifies itself as a management instead of an employment agency in order to pump up their fees and sidestep other labor laws.
Under state law, employment agencies can charge only a 10% fee on the value of any work their clients get; modeling agencies typically charge 20% and more, the papers say.
Extra agency fees are deducted when, for example, an apparel company refuses to pay an additional 20% fee for the use of a model's image. If the company doesn't pay that fee, the model has to pay it under the terms of McCary's contract and most others.
McCary, whose real name is Nekesha Batchoukou, says in court papers that after she quite DMM in June 2013, she learned that DMM had used her image in a L'Oreal ad. The papers say L'Oreal paid $18,000 for McCary's image plus an additional $3600 fee but McCary got only $10,000.
Steger says that instead of taking the legal 10% fee or even the 20% allowed in the contract, DMM took 45%.
The federal lawsuit filed last year by Jorache model Eva Agerbrink, 48, of Jersey City made many of the same arguments against her former employer, MSA Models. A motion to dismiss that case is pending in Manhattan Federal Court.

Read the full article here.

The WSJ breaks down The Society's management of new face Bhumika Arora

Bhumika Arora is one of the definite break-out new faces this season. The hitherto unknown 27-year-old from a small town in India started with Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs in New York, and followed it up with Gareth Pugh, Bottega Veneta, and Fendi. 

With interviews with Bhumika and her team at The Society, Ray A. Smith constructs a thorough analysis of the strategy behind her success for The Wall Street Journal.

Screen shot from  The Wall Street Journal  online |  WSJ

Screen shot from The Wall Street Journal online | WSJ

Here are our highlights:

Many models walk at fashion week. Only some make a name for themselves. Ms. Arora’s New York-based agency, the Society Management, has been preparing for months to get Ms. Arora noticed by influential casting directors, fashion stylists, and other industry taste makers.
“It’s really important to lay the groundwork,” says her New York agent, Christopher Michael. “Once you’ve built that, you can move on to the other arms of her career.” 
Growing up in a small town in the state of Haryana, Ms. Arora was a tall, skinny girl. While some people teased her for looking “like a guy,” she says, others said she looked like a model. Ms. Arora sometimes started to watch fashion shows but then changed the channel. “I used to think I was really, really ugly,” she says. “So modeling couldn’t be my thing.” In her town’s conservative culture, nice girls weren’t models. Her parents objected any time she brought up the idea. 
After she moved to a bigger town, Chandigarh, for college, she indulged her modeling fantasies through selfies. A friend submitted pictures of her to the “Model Watch” feature of a publication called “Cafe Beat” distributed at a local café. Ms. Arora was surprised to hear a few months later that the magazine had published her photo, placing it alongside three other young people it dubbed “steaming hot.” That convinced her—and helped convince her parents—that she could try modeling. 
Ms. Arora started to pursue an M.B.A., but soon a photographer who had seen the published picture offered to take her first professional photos. Armed with those, she moved to Delhi and modeled there for a few years. She began sending out her pictures to agencies in Europe, including Elite Paris, in December 2013. The agency signed her soon after. Both Elite Paris and the Society Management are part of Elite World, a global network of agencies.
A team at the agency that includes Mr. Michael, the Society Management’s executive agent, helps Ms. Arora and other models with personal development, including finding a personal style and dressing for castings. The team also advises her on things like traveling around cities. They also guide her and other models on social-media activity. Ms. Arora currently has a relatively small presence on social media, with an Instagram account that lists nearly 1,700 followers and 63 posts. The agency hopes to increase her interaction with her audience.
Screen shot from Bhumika's portfolio on The Society Management online |  The Society Management

Screen shot from Bhumika's portfolio on The Society Management online | The Society Management

While she was in Paris last February, Ms. Arora didn’t have a visa that would allow her to work in the U.S. But her agency was laying the groundwork for a future move. It introduced her to Anita Bitton, a well-known U.S.-based runway casting director who was in Paris. “We kept her on our radar of people we like,” Ms. Bitton says. The agency regularly updated Ms. Bitton—and it let her know when the model obtained her U.S. visa. 
As the fall 2015 runway shows approached, the agency’s first big step was targeting a few big, high-impact shows for Ms. Arora. For her first New York Fashion Week, “we didn’t want to have an anticlimactic start,” said Mr. Michael. “We were really quite targeted in terms of where we wanted to begin with her in terms of our shows and where her first appearance would land.”
Ms. Arora started New York Fashion Week with a bang, making her runway debut at Alexander Wang’s show, one of the week’s must-see events. The casting director was Ms. Bitton. Ms. Bitton’s team requested that Ms. Arora not appear on any other runway before the show, which took place Feb. 14, two days after fashion week started. Ms. Bitton says the show had “a very strong point of view and one that Bhumika was a very key part of. We wanted to preserve that moment until she had walked our show.” Mr. Wang, the designer, says: “She exemplifies a unique look and I was immediately persuaded by her.” 
Ms. Arora’s appearance in that show sparked interest from other casting directors, Mr. Michael said. Three days later, Ms. Arora walked in Vera Wang’s show. singled her out as No. 3 in its “7 Things We Loved Today” feature, writing: “Our hearts were stolen by a fresh face on the Vera Wang runway: the moody-eyed, sultry-lipped, and enviously angular Bhumika.”
Ms. Arora then walked on Anna Sui’s runway and closed out New York at Marc Jacobs, one of the most sought-after shows for a model. Ms. Bitton, the founder of New York City-based Establishment Casting, cast her for that show as well.
Mr. Michael had sent Ms. Arora’s model show card—which features her picture and details such as height and shoe size—to stylist Charlotte Stockdale while Ms. Stockdale was in New York. “She just blew me away,” says Ms. Stockdale, who styled the Fendi show and played a role in choosing models, in collaboration with the show’s casting agent. 
After the show season ends, Mr. Michael hopes for Ms. Arora to make ”an impressive splash” in magazines and ad campaigns in the coming months. Mr. Michael, who is in Paris, meeting clients and supporting the models there, says several of the shows Ms. Arora walked in provided “a stamp of validation.”

Read the full piece here.