Calling yourself an anti-agency might seem like a pretty bold claim in the modeling world; but it’s working out okay so far for the London based Anti Agency.
Anti Agency are a talent management firm “for people who could’ve been models and decided not to, for people who are too cool to be models and people with real lives on the verge of exploding in music, fashion, art, illustration & creative industries etc.”
On the Anti Agency’s books are many of Dalston’s finest: hipster kids with lily-pale skin, tattoos, dreadlocks, pierced septums and shaved heads.
In addition to being ‘interesting’ looking, they’re all pretty conventionally attractive, and while not all of them are ‘model thin’ there’s less diversity of size than you’d see at say, Wilhelmina an agency that reps plus size and petite models including Australia’s Robyn Lawley.
The Anti Agency was founded by a pair of fashion insiders, Pandora Lennard, formerly of indie fashion mag Tank and stylist Lucy Greene whose client list includes the who’s-who of London’s achingly cool fashion scene.
Lennard told the Daily Beast that the Anti Agency has no weight or height requirements; preferring instead to pick models for their personalities.
But don’t be fooled, the Anti Agency does let its models express their ‘individual style’ in its (still heavily retouched) photographs, and boasts poets and musicians on its roster.
The website is missing those creepy vital stats like height and waist measurements (that are standard issue for most modelling agencies), instead providing barebones information about what the models do. Each model has a job description like ‘artist’ or ‘journalist’. So far, so cool and it’s nice that in addition to things like piercings, some of the women on the books also sport actual real not-waxed-off body hair.
Not so cool is the way the Anti Agency writes off those people who chose to be models before they became hipsters (you know, the ones who were scouted at 14), dismissing them as somehow less-than. “Too cool to be models” is how they describe their own special non-model-models… and yet they’re on a modelling site? Sorry, what?
Modelling agencies that do ‘street casting’ are not a new thing. The desire to reflect what the hippest young people are doing has been around since Yves Saint Laurent looked to the streets, founding his Parisian ready to wear Rive Gauche line and boutique in 1966 and basing his designs on what he saw the artists of the left bank wearing. Betty Catroux is a living testament to street casting’s power.
For every dozen advertising campaigns where the models look sunny and normal, there’s at least one where they look ‘rebellious’ – think General Pants or American Apparel. And in order to cast ‘rebellious’ looking models, there have to be agencies that cater to this niche.
In Australia that agency is Six Wolves, whose roster probably includes just as many musicians, artists and aspirant writers as the Anti Agency’s does; purely because young people who self-style as ‘interesting’ usually also identify as creative. Brands like Uniqlo, GAP and Lanvin have all used ‘real’ people doing interesting things in their advertisements recently.
You’d think that casting a wider net when it comes to who you put in your campaigns is always a good thing, but it’s also possible to get it wrong.