Redefining the Faces of Fashion
Redefining the Faces of Fashion
When I flip through the pages of a magazine, skimming the advertisements and admiring the fashion spreads, I can usually see myself - or, at least a girl who looks like me. I can see a girl with fair skin, light eyes and long, blonde hair. Girls with physical features similar to mine are represented in mass media.
But most girls have never seen a face in a commercial or on a runway that looks even remotely like them. Most girls don’t feel represented by the models who are supposed to be representing most girls. Lorde Inc. seeks to solve this issue of misrepresentation by serving as the first non-white modeling agency in the world.
Nafisa Kaptownwala, a Canadian art history graduate, began working on the edges of the fashion world and quickly noticed the severe lack of models of color in the industry. While her experience in the fashion industry had only just begun, Kaptownwala had her heart set on altering the age-old stereotypes of what a model should look like.
In May 2014, Kaptownwala launched Lorde Inc in London. Currently, the agency employs 60 models, each with their own unique and authentic look. The diverse range of faces is refreshing to see in an industry dominated by uniformity and replication.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the idea that fashion needs to diversify its pool of models. Kaptownwala herself is highly pessimistic that any real strides of change will be made in the near future. It’s not like models of color haven’t been seen in the fashion world in the past. In the 90’s, it was actually common to see “exotic” faces on the runways and in high-fashion spreads. But the issue that many people fail to recognize is that being a person on color isn’t a trendy fashion statement that cycles in and out of style every few years. All people should be equally represented in the modeling industry all the time.
At this point, Lorde Inc.’s concept of bringing variety to the faces of fashion is still part of a sub-stream culture. Most agencies are biased towards recruiting models of European descent, no matter where the agency is located around the world. This bias stems from the long standing beauty standard that Caucasian models are the most marketable in the fashion world.
Hopefully, the creation of Lorde Inc. will inspire other modeling agencies to rework their recruitment practices to include models from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds. Step by step, we can redefine that face of fashion that has dominated our cultures for years. We can shift the connotation attached to the modeling agency from exclusively white to inclusively diverse. We can make sure that every little girl can see herself reflected in magazines and advertisements in the media. We can make a change.
Shaye is a passionate teen from the Jersey Shore area who hopes to impact as any lives as possible every day. She founded a chapter of Girl Up at her high school and leads other teens in advocacy and awareness campaigns to aid girls around the world. As the NJ Girl Up Coalition Outreach Coordinator, Shaye mentors and networks with new chapters in her community.