5 Modeling Agencies That Are About More Than Looks

by Tyler Atwood

The term "model" conjures visions of long, sylphlike limbs, but a new crop of unconventional modeling agencies may change the narrow preconception. Women's Wear Daily reports that State, a modeling agency that seeks to hire multidimensional models with strength of character, is simply the latest company to look beyond the surface aesthetic appeal of its clientele. It seems that the fashion industry is beginning to admit that beauty is only skin deep, and a brilliant personality lends depth that good looks simply can't.

The coterie of alternative modeling agencies has grown significantly over the past several years, born out of the knowledge that consumers can't relate to the frosty, impermeable perfection often seen in vintage advertisements. Instead of viewing the same waif-like blondes of Amazonian height peppering advertisements, modern shoppers wish to see greater diversity, and indeed models that mirror their own proportions and appearance.

The first quarter of 2015 saw a greater trend towards plus sized models, models over the age of fifty, and transgender models, and it seems the movement is only growing stronger as the year marches on. If you're a proponent of the so-called "Role Model" movement, scroll through for five beautifully nonconformist modeling agencies to keep an eye on in the coming months.

1. State

Forget perfect proportions and an arresting come-hither stare; startup agency State, which will open its doors on September 9, only favors models with a message. "We really want models that have something to say. When we do interviews, we ask what they’re doing in school. We’re about building who you are. The criteria is open for us; it’s about what makes you interesting to a larger audience," founder Rene Gonzalez explained to Women's Wear Daily.

2. Anti-Agency

According to London-based modeling representation firm Anti-Agency, there is one key term to describe models who belong within the company: aspirational. "If you want models that represent your target audience and that will be aspirational figures for your customer then these are the girls and boys for you," the Anti-Agency website reads. Each hand-selected model must possess a "cool" personality and creative inclinations outside of their sartorial pursuits, a poignant initiative spearheaded by Anti-Agency's creators Lucy Greene and Pandora Lennard.

3. The Ugly Modeling Agency

The Ugly Modeling Agency doesn't take aesthetics entirely out of the picture, but rather seeks free spirits who embrace their originality wholeheartedly. "We like our women fat and our men geeky, we like the extremely tall and the shockingly small. No one is too abstract for our books! We are Ugly. And we are the leaders in character modeling," the Ugly Modeling Agency website trumpets. "With a unique outlook on modelling, our philosophy is simple – 'Any beauty can be airbrushed but we want our look to have true character.' "

4. We Are Unlike You

Berlin-based company We Are Unlike You takes quite the opposite approach to that of Ford or IMG, selecting individuals with unique and offbeat appearances. "We don’t just represent hundreds of tremendous looking individuals, but genuine characters, each of them with their own unique style and individual talents," the agency's website proclaims.

5. Apple Model Management

Apple Model Management currently calls Thailand its home base, but the forward-thinking company is en route to Los Angeles this year. The agency proudly counts only transgender models amongst its clients, and is indeed the premiere agency to do so.