Models 1 was founded in 1968 and is currently celebrating it's fiftieth year in the industry. Having worked with people such as George Barnett, Cameron Russell and Lennon Gallagher, they've become the go-to place for all men's fashion needs.
Over five decades Models 1 become one of the most successful agencies in Europe garnering respect for both its portfolio of models and its attitude towards welfare. With that in mind we thought we'd catch up with Managing Director, John Horner to find out more.
Over the last fifty years there has been huge change in men’s fashion, do you think that has been reflected in the look of models over the last fifty years?
Fashion has changed drastically over the past fifty years. In the eighties it was a more romantic-ish look, in the 90s came grunge and every decade has had a different signature look. The biggest change for me is that prior to the 80s, the male models were more commercial, almost like catalogue models. In the early 80s men started taking fashion seriously. That’s when male modelling really became a ‘thing’.
Has the process of scouting male models changed in that time? We’ve all heard about agents seeing people in the street and signing them, but does that really happen?
Definitely. In the early days all scouting was done on the street or models would just walk into the agency. You would also have photographers bringing in models. The process has remained the same, though now it has evolved with the emergence of social media.
Which famous face would you have loved to have had on the books in the last fifty years?
I can’t really think of a name because to be honest, I've been working at Models 1 for years and I have always looked up to all the models we represented and I think they all are fantastic!
Over the years we have represented great guys doing great things and you just can’t represent everybody at the end of the day.
Modelling has become infamous for the treatment of young people by some agencies, how do you work to look after people signed to the agency, and what do you think can be done to improve the situation?
I think it is very important to differentiate between the UK and some other countries from where these complaints often arise. The UK has always looked to protect our models. Equally, members of the British Fashion Model Agents Association www.bfma.fashion (BFMA) behave to a code of behaviour which seeks to protect youngsters from the moment they join an agency where they are trained and their careers are nurtured through experience.
We never let a model work for an unknown client and nor will we work with a test photographer who we've not met. No work is done in the home of any supplier. All models underage are chaperoned. In addition the BFMA , now affiliated to the British Fashion Council, is jointly working to create a model charter to which all involved in the British fashion industry will sign up.
As times have changed, the age range of male models at events like London Fashion Week Men’s has grown. Over the last fifty years have you seen a shift in dynamics of what designers and creative directors are asking for?
For shows, it seems that everybody now wants to have exclusivity with the brand-new sensation who hasn’t done anything with anyone else before, and they seem to be to becoming younger and younger. On the other end, in fashion shooting, the longevity for models is far longer than it used to be. Some of our models are in their 60s and sill work a lot. You can see that there is a demand for older models, however not in fashion shows.
What are you most proud of from the last five decades?
Having only worked at Models 1 for twenty years, my view is a little stilted! However, when we acquired the business from the original owners, we determined never to change the ethos of the business and its attitude towards staff and models alike. So, whilst the whole modelling industry has been transformed with the advent of e-commerce and social media, we have kept ourselves up-to-date and ahead of the curve without changing our personality and professionalism.
If you were to give advice to an aspiring model, what would it be?
Be yourself, be on time, be polite. The most successful guys are the one who are easy going, easy to work with. If you need to travel somewhere for a shoot, you need to know that you will get along with the model and it will be a nice experience. Apart from look, personality is the thing that will make you standout. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be shy and successful though.
Fifty years is a long time, but what can we expect to see from Models 1 over the next fifty years?
A massively changing environment with disruption from many different angles – clients and agents, communication methods and media, internationalism and digitalisation and so much more about which, as yet, we know nothing! Our job will remain the same because models are human, they must not be depersonalised and we will continue to fight for the best on their behalves.
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