Instagram: The Search Engine Discovering Extraordinary Faces by Xavier Rodrigues

How has Social Media impacted the modelling business? 

Xavier Rodrigues discusses the new age of technology with Rare Select Models co-founder Romany-Francesca.

DESPITE the inevitable bashing of social media having a negative influence on young people – social application downloads have gone through the roof. According to the App Annie 2017 Retrospective Report - the number of worldwide digital downloads surpassed 175 billion in 2017, a 60% increase since 2015. Instagram saw a whopping 800 million worldwide users in 2017, living by its mission statement: “To capture and share the world’s moments.” 

Romany-Francesca Mukoro, Founder & Director of Rare Select Models

Romany-Francesca Mukoro, Founder & Director of Rare Select Models

According to Rare Select Models Agency’s Romany-Francesca: “Social media has become increasingly relevant in the way in which we source our models. It is a platform that enables us as a company to see the way in which a person interacts with their environment on a personal and business level.”

2010 saw the launch of Instagram – sold in 2015 for $1 billion to media giant Facebook. Instagram assists the individual to create a digital album that not only acts as a voyeuristic moment but an easier way of storing, sharing and editing - taking photography and videography into your own hands and broadcasting instantaneously. The fashion industry has clearly jumped on the digital bandwagon – using their platforms to showcase designs, campaigns and business. 

Haruna Jabek, Model 

Haruna Jabek, Model 

For Rare Select Models star face Haruna Jebak: “My modelling career has been affected through growing my brand as people will start to know your stance and how you carry yourself. As I believe it is not just about pictures, it is about how you stand out from the rest. The topic of masculinity and being focused on becoming the best version of yourself is something I really put a spotlight on.”

So how has Social Media impacted the modelling business? Does Instagram provide a model with the opportunity to construct their own aesthetic? Perhaps attributes that correspond to identity can be showcased but arguably the gazeis challenged. Scrutiny and the rise and fall of a public figure is not in the hands of sensationalized tabloid stories. The platform has opened conversations that relate to topics like size, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class and politics. Model Ashley Graham who currently has more than six million followers, uses hashtag #BeautyBeyondSize to highlight ‘body positivity.’ 

Jebak says, “branding is the most important part. Within an industry that is oversaturated, you have to ensure you stand out. I like to show the best parts of myself and take people on a journey.”

Models like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne most followed models on Instagram who have more than 160 million followers combined - have used their influence to partner with brands like Puma, Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger to create impact in advertising, brand awareness and global sales. This saw Kendall Jenner as the highest paid Model in 2017, according to Forbes. 

Romany-Francesca suggests that these platforms are time efficient. “A few years back you would have someone on the street for hours trying to find a fresh face – whereas now it can be done from the comfort of your own home/office at any hour.”

Ad Week magazine declares ‘influencer marketing’ to be worth more than a £7 billion industry, by the year 2020. 

Perhaps modelling is not just for the catwalks anymore, brands gravitate towards numbers, impact and influence - transforming and changing the structures within the modelling business. 

Words by Xavier Rodrigues