Social media rises as revolutionary modeling tool

Illustration by Allison Verjinski.
Illustration by Allison Verjinski.

Social media is revolutionizing the fashion modeling industry, according to fashion design and merchandising chair Patricia Brown.

“It’s become much more real,” Brown said. “There’s openness to more normal body types, different looks, different ages and multiculturalism.”

For fashion models, social media is a pivotal tool and Instagram is becoming more than just a phone app to share and like pictures. Brown said it provides aspiring models a platform to brand and connect with potential employers by showcasing content and photoshoots.

“Social media shows actual pictures. Bloggers show different looks on real people,” Brown said. “[Modeling] is a lot more democratic now and there’s more reality.”

Agencies use Instagram to find models for photoshoots and runway shows. Major fashion names — including Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Prada — have recruited models from browsing on social media sites, specifically Instagram.

Brooklyn-born model Theresa Hayes broke into the fashion world after connecting with modeling agencies through her social media. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Hayes finished her second season as an international exclusive for Louis Vuitton in 2017.

Instagram is ideal for budding student models, too. Student model Yasin Islam said social media has played a part in his modeling career by giving him inspiration and the opportunity to market himself to different agencies and

“I see [other models’] posts [on Instagram] and what kind of looks they put on. I use that as somewhere to start,” Islam said. “Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves and I’m slowly developing mine.”

Islam began his modelling career a little less than two years ago and said he admires how accessible fashion is thanks to social media apps.

“The modeling industry is global now,” Islam said. “People with different stories and backgrounds are all being given the opportunity to display themselves in so many ways rather than using words.”

VCU junior and part-time model Almira Zaky also said social media has been a huge mobilizer for her career. The key to boosting her modeling career is increasing her following, which she said can be tough for aspiring models.

“A big social media following has a lot to do with consistency, genuineness and your real life interactions,” Zaky said. “I constantly post photos and stories. I interact with people and my photos show my real life and portray me.”

In addition to functioning as a tool for budding models, Instagram and its modeling platform affects more than just the fashion world, it affects consumerism trends through promotion. Models serve as huge influencers on the app, promoting certain products and brands to their followings.

“Now consumers might buy [a product] just because their favorite model or promoter is supporting the product,” Zaky said.

 Islam said not everybody can simply become a model; it takes skill. Everyday Instagram users with high-quality content on their profiles start to call themselves “models,” downplaying what the industry truly demands.

“For some it’s just a great place to share moments they’ll cherish forever,” Islam said. “Some people have amazing accounts and pictures … but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a model.”

Instagram modeling can harm the industry if not used properly, according to former supermodel Abbey Lee Kershaw. In an interview with W Magazine, Kershaw said modeling life is often portrayed as something far more glamorous and flashy than the reality.

“I don’t care what anyone says about the fashion industry, it’s hard work,” Kershaw said. “And those dumb videos where you see Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner jumping around a hotel room — that’s not how it is at all.”

Saffeya Ahmed Staff Writer 

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