Deadly Diversity?

Deadly Diversity?

Someone randomly commented on our instagram last week that they'd "only just realised how little diversity there is in your models"

For some reason they didn't want to chat to me any further about it but I thought well, perhaps it's true, and toddled off to take a look at it. Mostly what I learnt in reviewing our entire archive was that:

1) I'm pretty sure models tell fibs about their height, you know.

2) Most of the pictures are of Morgana, so yes, if you don't realise that then it's not very diverse (though she is a very different shape and size than standard industry models)

3) If you don't see people standing in a line-up, you can't really tell anything about their relative dimensions; since most product shots are 3/4 length, of one person at once, shot in the same format, framed in the same way, this flattens out the natural differences between models. When we do get a big difference and, in order to get everyone in shot, we get people to pose in a way that minimises their height difference.

In the above image, Jess, 6 foot tall, is about a foot and a half behind Morgana and Emmie (both of whom would shop easiest in the petite section of the womenswear departments), AND they are standing on a table.

So, given how much we can mess with your perceptions of size in 2D imagery,  I asked Yasmin-the-occasional-intern to do me an image with all the people who've been on the site predominantly for KMD in what we think is a to-scale representation.

Clockwise from left to right is Emmie (Sinderella), Viktoria Modesta, Lady Voix De Ville, Morgana, Twig, Romanie Smith, Lexy Lu, Kaori, Lou Watts (yes, she's the one who stormed off ANTM US vs UK), Jess, and Sophie Roach

I'll not say who I think is fibbing about their height!

As compared to industry standard models, KMD models (who tend not to be with modelling agencies as they often don't meet the criteria) are on average:

Shorter! Though Jess is 6 foot, Emmie, Twig, Romanie, Morgana and Kaori would all be unusually short for a fashion model, even in commercial work. It is vanishingly rare for anyone under 5'6 to get regular modelling work in the mainstream industry.

Older; more than half our models are over 25. Some are over 30. Like cats, models age faster but carry on looking the same to us, so in normal human years, a 25-year-old model is heading towards a pension usually.

More tattoos and piercings; mainstream modelling isn't interested in these at all. I have to be honest, this is actually more chance than planning; if anything, we'd been trying to avoid it, simply because sometimes when you photograph lingerie with someone who has complicated body art, people get confused as to what's the garment and what's the model's artwork.

Wildly more variable in bust size; everything from a 32A to a 34H, though I think the biggest back size has been 36 (UK sizing).

Curvier; that's not to say they are plus size. The bulk of our images show someone who is a UK 8-10 in the waist and hip (that's what size the samples are so that's easiest), but an 8-10 looks very different on a 5'2 model than it does on someone 5'10, and someone with a size 8 waist but size 10 hips is significantly different to the average commercial or catwalk model. Lady Voix, Lexy, Lou and Jess are considered plus models by the industry. Lou and Jess have both had difficult choices to make commercially; both have naturally muscular builds, but this is not considered a bonus for most of the fashion industry, and places them in between core sizes and plus range. So, they have had to choose between their natural body shapes, or significant lifestyle changes to be core sized models, or a different set of significant lifestyle changes to get up to the measurements/shape/style preferred for plus models.

I seriously have no idea why anyone ever grows up dreaming of being a model, it's a really peculiar job.

Some of our models have disabilities, the most obvious being Viktoria Modesta, who is a disability activist. The rest are invisible issues (a fraught topic on many fronts at the moment, and just as divisive when you're talking representation and diversity in modelling).

In terms of ethnicities, to the best of my knowledge, there's a whole pile of UK passports but also Latvian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Nigerian heritage here.

We haven't shown everyone you'd ever see in our pants, which obviously includes you, the people who wear them all the time since if you're happy and you know I will surely want to show it! You'll also see informal glimpses or videos of me talking pants whilst in pants, plus Lydia, and then there's plenty of models who come from other brands and we do cross promotions with or they work with us in some way.  So you may recall Tessa, Ginger Koneko (no longer ginger, but probably closest to an agency size model), Miss Deadly Red, Miss Miranda, Yazzmin, Lydia and Maz.

Do you have a favourite KMD model? Let me know in the comments.