Asia's True Top Models
Female Singapore|November 2020
A diversity report on the fall/winter 2020 runway season by the fashion spot – drawn from 194 shows that took place in the four major fashion week cities – found that 40.6 per cent of models cast were people of colour. In contrast, when the popular online portal started tallying diversity reports five years ago with the spring/summer 2015 season, that figure was 17 per cent. It’s commendable change, some might say – one that reflects the fashion industry’s growing interest in and recognition of the importance of representing a wide range of faces and ethnicities. Based in different parts of asia, the three modelling agencies featured here aren’t just vital players in this revolution; they’re expanding the conversation by championing specifically models from home. Gordon NG finds out how they’re changing the look and perceptions of Asian beauty.
Gordon NG

FEAT. ARTISTS, MUMBAI, INDIA

“The time of just the clothes horse has come to an end,” declares Smita Lasrado of Feat. Artists, a model and talent agency based in Mumbai, India that she co-founded in 2018 with stylist Nikhil Dudani. What she means is that the fashion industry these days expects more than interchangeable canvases. Instead, Feat. prides itself on scouting and representing “all the young, amazing cool kids in India of all genders, ethnicities, body types and ages”.

The notion of beauty that the agency is pushing is broad. “India is such a diverse and vast country in terms of how people look. We want to highlight these different realities of what an Indian person can look like,” says Lasrado. Yet the vastness of her home country does also mean that change doesn’t always come quick. “(Getting people to understand and appreciate such diversity) is a slow process and requires a lot of dismantling, but it’s in motion.”

This is particularly important considering that India’s fashion industry is set to grow to US$59.3 billion (S$80.5 billion) by 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world, according to a McKinsey report. And Lasrado feels that India – what with it set to play a bigger part in the international fashion scene – is quickly catching up to leading cities in managing a sophisticated bridge between commercial and editorial work.

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