Since the Corona virus pandemic hit us, a whole lot of industries have gone on a purposeful restructuring and re-strategizing. Some sectors even began to gain solid grounds, as they became more and more useful.
The Fashion Industry and all its sub-sectors have been forced to make quite a number of changes, affecting all the sections it houses. One of the sectors front-lining the backlashes the fashion industry has been forced to produce, is the Model Management.
From Runways to Look-books, to Cataloguing, Commercials and Campaign shoots, the current need for models are beginning to dwindle. Technology has been forced to become more prominent, and the use of Digital Modeling prototypes is beginning to gain more grounds. One of such great achievements was seen by Hanifa, an eponymous label and bespoke designer and creative director of Hanifa Bridals, who on May 2020 released a collection, making use of the soon to be popular 3D Digital Model Prototypes.
I had the privilege of conversing with a few Nigerian model management heads, and they shared their insights, fears, concerns, optimism and/or pessimism, concerning the industry they currently spearhead.
Uchenna Okwudima shared his concern about the on purpose all boys model management brand he started and officially registered in the year 2017. The management, whose values rest on the rocks of providing quality placements which in-turn provides better sustenance for the boys, opens up about the sad reality and reduction in business. “The industry is dying, and nothing’s currently happening”, he says.
He went further to explain how he goes on to talking to a few friends and clients, who currently provide his boys with legal jobs placements to keep them up and running for the time being. He says the boys are a huge priority, and helping them stay busy in whatsoever way is how they plans to keep heads above water.
Uchenna has said that the current pandemic should not be a cause to relent or be less creative, as he is currently working with photographers and other industry creatives to make sure the boys are still very much fit and interested in the profession. Also, the organization and provision of shoots, and in-house catwalk processes is one way to provide models with more required skills for them to hone their artistry.
Moving a little further away from the pandemic, the management, whose debut show housed a total of 15 boys at the GTBank Fashion Weekend says that the industry needs to provide quality structuring, and implores that every talented models should be well paid. He also said that everyone going into the profession whether as a freelancer or not should be sure of what they want and try as much as possible not to sell themselves short, as there are a lot of corrupt casting directors.
You have to be called, and possess a very strong conviction. It’s like priesthood! Yes, the right models are not being picked. Knowing this, and understanding how important it is for the industry to restructure gives you an edge, and helps you not sell yourself short.
–Uchenna, Founder, MyBooker Models Management
This agency built on the foundations of providing quality help and management to black models was established by Maurice Sokari. He explains that racial injustice amongst casting directors and managements were in excess, and he decided to start a management that understood how important it was for people of colour to be celebrated and appreciated.
The management formally established and registered on the 1st of July has its core values centered on the need to provide a stable-competing agency which offers itself in raising black voices and providing financial support for them whilst also providing a chance for the global recognition of the African – Nigerian chain of fashion modeling.
Admitting on the slow pace of the management’s bounce-back since the pandemic, Maurice also admits how shocked he is that everything’s finally falling back in place. The pandemic’s made him and his team work from home, as this has allowed room for some refurbishing.
The pandemic has reduced travelling for models, and there’s been less bookings; but we’ve managed to push through the whole situation. It most definitely wouldn’t be how it used to be, but everyone has to manage to live with it.
The very witty pioneer gave an exclusive on a mini-fashion show they’re planning, with safe distances and great concepts, and implores everyone to keep crossed fingers as they make finishing touches on how this would stay relevant. He also advised everyone to not give up yet, and be sure to do the right things as they progressed.
The exclusive males only model management was officially established by Godwin Okoruwa, on September 2017. Since then, the management has experienced a reasonable and appreciable amount of growth. It was established on the need to create an environment whose basis was rooted on the provision of an Inclusive space, Family unification, Simplistic approach, and quality client experience.
The tech specialist admits that there was some sort of forewarnings as there had been a lot of prototypes in the time pasts, signifying a change in the workings of the industry. This was why they started a management that focused on building models as brands, rather than just dressing them up.
“Every model has other great potentials other than being just models. Our models aren’t just living trained mannequins”, he says. “No, they’re leveled with a great sense of character building, personality traits, great work ethics, and a general sense of forward living”.
He went on to explain how the LEDmen Empowerment Program was established to foster further development of the boys, as it gave room for each of them to learn a skill even before he outbreak of the pandemic – Ghaffar is a stylist/fashion influencer, John is videographer, and Victor, a professional barber. It is very important for the models to keep building their personal brands, so people could genuinely connect with them.
Irrespective of the pandemic, there would always be need for physical models, as the need for digital models aren’t yet practical in the Nigerian market. It’s slow, and brands are still coming up with production evaluations. That’s why it is very important for ethics to be built, and quality client experience projected.