We have come a long way when it comes to diversity in the media.
But representation for non-white models still has long way to go.
A new agency aims to tackle this and encourage brands to hire more minorities models.
Lorde Inc. only has Black, Latino, and Asian models on their books.
The agency, located in London, was founded back in 2014 by 26-year-old Canadian art history graduate, Nafisa Kaptownwala.
As Kaptownwala began to work on the fringes of fashion, she noticed the lack of non-white models.
Despite no experience in the modelling industry, she set up Lorde in London with a friend.
The next thing she knew “people were contacting us.”
Four years on, Lorde has worked with magazines including Dazed & Confused and i-D, and collaborated with London streetwear brand Cassette Playa.
‘Lorde Inc was just my way of saying, look we’re out here, and we think we’re beautiful whether the industry recognizes that or not,’ Nafisa said.
‘Sort of like how BET works—creating content for and by black folks because the rest of the entertainment industry won’t make room for them. In an ideal anti-racist world, we wouldn’t need to create separate agencies.’
‘But if we aren’t going to be given work through white media, then we’re going to make work for ourselves,” she explained to NotJustALabel.’
‘Individual photographers will ask me if they think it’s okay if they go out of their way to find black and brown folks to include in their photos, or if that’s too contrived and in itself problematic because they’re basically including people because of the colour of their skin.’
‘But if it’s been a problem for these white fashion folks to include non-white models and they see that it’s a problem, well they need to take that first step.’
‘I would hope that they see that they’re not just intentionally including Black and Brown folks because of their skin colour but because they’re beautiful.’
Despite her agency knocking down the doors of fashion houses, Kaptownwala is pessimistic about diversity in modeling.
‘There’s still not a massive demand because this is still a radical idea and people in fashion are not really ready for it,’ she says.
‘How does that make me feel? In general I think, as a person of colour, you internalise. Creating this agency is a way to channel those feelings.’