Has Instagram Killed Traditional Runway Casting?

         Image courtesy of marchetoday.it

In just a few weeks, New York City will be host to one of the most glamorous, but hectic events of the season, New York Fashion Week: The Shows. In seasons past, model castings were the most stressful time for fashion models. Models were expected to have picture-perfect portfolios, bodies in peak condition, and runway walks that could bring down the house. However, Instagram has created enormous change in the fashion industry and that also applies to model castings.Recently, Abercrombie & Fitch cast their entire denim campaign from Instagram. That’s right, the brand once known for their shirtless all-American jock models cast 30 men and women right off of Instagram. As highsnobiety.com pointed out in 2016, “New talent is no longer found on the streets of trendy city districts, but via the comments and hashtags of your daily feed.”

              Image courtesy of thelocal.de

In February 2018, Adidas in collaboration with up-and-coming designer Daniëlle Cathari debuted a collection at New York Fashion Week. Rather than requesting model packages from model management companies, Daniëlle Cathari hosted a street casting on social media where followers were encouraged to attend and bring a friend. To fashion traditionalist, the idea of plucking models off of the street or using Instagram to find models was unheard of. However, it was fashion’s old guard that popularized the idea.     In 2015, Marc Jacobs announced a worldwide model call for the new face of his now-defunct Marc by Marc Jacobs campaign. Jacobs Instagram announcement read:

“Want to be the face of Marc by Marc Jacobs FW15? Cast Me Marc is back! Tag a photo of you with your friends (we’re looking for groups!) on Instagram or Twitter with #castmemarc for a chance to star in our #FW15 ad campaign. 📷 Start snapping!”

The days of model management companies ruling the casting roost are long gone. Not to say that there still isn’t a truckload of brands that stick to the traditional route of go-sees; however, that is no longer the absolute rule. As fashion attempts to shed the image of exclusivity, an “unrealistically thin and beautiful people only” club, and something only for a select few, Instagram casting has helped them find more “real people” to use as models and people who are seen as more relatable.

     Coco Baudelle image courtesy of thebusinessinsider.com

In 2016, elle.com published an article about the beautiful and talented New York City–based actress Coco Baudelle. The actress/model sat down for lunch at a Lower Side restaurant where she was photographed. The photo was posted to the restaurant’s Instagram account. Baudelle is petite, and describes her teeth as weird, but she has an on-going love affair with the camera.The photo caught the attention of Glossier founder and CEO Emily Weiss who slid into her DMs on Instagram. “I thought it was a prank because I was a pretty big fan of Into the Gloss [the blog, created by Weiss, that preceded the launch of Glossier],” Baudelle said to elle.com. “She set up a casual meeting, just me and her, and we just talked. By the end of our coffee Emily said, ‘You laugh a lot, I love that.’ A few days later we were shooting Glossier’s first campaign.”

Part of Glossier’s business strategy for finding their campaign girls is through, what executive editor Annie Kreighbaum described to elle.com as “good old-fashion stalking.” Typically, someone on the tier of glossier would be pulling models from some New York-based model management company that had affordable models.

                  Image courtesy of elle.com

Glossier’s been able to build a name for itself based on their authenticity and relatable models, and they are still successfully growing. Clearly the strategy worked for them. What’s also interesting is observing top model management companies using Glossier’s scouting strategy—Instagram—to find new talent.At one time, agents were literally out on the street scouting talent. In December 2014, IMG Models, the home of models ranging from Alex Wek to Ruby Aldridge, launched the Instagram account @weloveyourgenes with the aim of using social media to find new modeling talent around the world. Jeni Rose, VP of IMG Models said that this meant they no longer had to rely on chance to find new models.

                Image courtesy of intothegloss.com

In a 2015 article in The Cut, former fashion news editor Veronique Hyland interviewed Noah Shelley, one of the best known casting directors in New York who spilled all of the tea. In today’s Instagram age, there are interns hired at modeling agencies just to go through Instagram and look for people with large followings to sign. These agencies clients even tell them “We want to make sure [the models] have strong social media followings.”Shelley also discussed the death of street-casting, which was once the standard for scouting models. He says his time is better spent with four or five hours on the internet or Instagram rather than walking around.

             Image courtesy of vogue.com

Say sayonara to the days of asking for model packages from agencies. Now, if a model is getting cast, their Instagram game is top notch. It is a social media lover’s world, and the rest of the fashion industry just living with it.—Kristopher Fraser

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