From ’97 Til Now, Model Management’s CEO Talks Industry Evolution
Speaking from experience, becoming a go-to online industry resource doesn’t happen over night, especially in the competitive fashion industry. An early purveyor in the online frontier was founder and CEO of ModelManagement.com, Andreas von Estorff. His knack for realizing the industry was changing and his creative mind came together in the late nineties to launch the an online hub for the modeling industry. Now his vision has evolved alongside technology and his site is changing the way casting is done and careers launch. Looking to gain a unique perspective on his company, we recently chatted with von Estorff about the industry and innovations being made over at Model Management.
What motivated you to develop ModelManagement.com and what are your thoughts on fashion’s online evolution?
I launched the first version of ModelManagement.com in 1997, when the internet was still in its infancy. The initial idea at its most simplistic was that each model should have their own personal ‘URL’ (web address) and modelmanagement.com would be the nucleus where they could be found. In 1997 this vision was for many within the model industry, too far beyond their imagination. There were statements like: “We only work with printed comp cards.” or “We would rather send the model books directly to our clients.” How quickly this view point has changed. The model industry has now become so dependent on the internet that agencies get nervous when they are not online for even five minutes. Two years ago I relaunched ModelManagement.com, as a massively improved and advanced website which included web 2.0 features and social networking activity with a very powerful casting tool. I am convinced that in a few years the whole way in which models are casted and booked will have changed drastically and I believe ModelManagement.com will be at the forefront of this revolution. We will probably see similar developments in other sectors of the fashion industry. Can you imagine doing an online casting, where you can immediately book your selected model online – all in one place? I can!
Please tell us more about the “Fresh Faces” initiative and how it has helped launched new modeling careers.
There is obviously lots of modeling contests out there because modeling contests are very attractive events and always of high public interest. I have been a judge in many different contests but for me they seemed all very similar and classic. I thought it was time to come up with a new fresh formula for a modeling contest and we combined our online experience with some new offline elements to create the new contest: Fresh Faces. My impression from other model contests has always been that they seem more interested in the promotion and the show of the event than actually finding new model talent that they can help and guide through the first steps of their career. That’s why we concentrate more on the process of finding the finest new faces, making sure that they have the best possible chance to get representation and to work in the industry.
Through the online castings we found thousands of interesting model talents as it is relatively easy to apply from wherever in the world you are. The fact that our site is available in 15 languages also helped to lower the barrier to young people from countries where only few people speak English. We had a Jury with the perfect mix of professionals of the photo and modeling industry combined with some trendy bloggers. We had the Facehunter as one of our jury members, who was just named as one of the Top 10 influential fashion bloggers by American Vogue. We did the first edition of the contest in 4 different countries with finals in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Barcelona. On the day of the final, the models had to go through various photo sessions with different teams of photographers, stylists and makeup artists, and at the end they had to do a catwalk. The jury and hundreds of invited industry professionals could observe the models during the whole day to see how they work. This was new and apparently a great spectacle. Most of the modes got a contract from agencies who were also invited to join the final events. They are now working in Paris, Milan or New York. One of the finalists from our Paris Edition was just booked by Karl Lagerfeld for the Cover of Elle France.
Aside from models, how are other professionals in the industry using Model Management?
Photographers find models for their next shoot, or they offer their services to do test shootings for models and model agencies. Agencies use ModelManagement.com for finding new faces, to promote their new faces to other international agencies or to find jobs for their models through the castings that are posted on our page. Agencies will have to accept that the Internet will change their way of working as models become more accessible to everyone on websites like ModelManagement.com. If they are clever and understand how to use these platforms they will be able to adapt fast. I think the trend will be to represent less quantity of models with higher quality and rates and give better service to both – clients and the models who have committed to representation through an agency. On the other hand there will be clients with smaller budgets and models with less ambition who will prefer to go for a direct booking without an agency. Those clients will be using websites like ours to find models and also for castings.
We noticed Model Management has a chic squiggle logo, is there a story behind how this was invented?
We were inspired by the simplicity of the Nike logo but off course aware that we have to be more explicative as our brand was not yet established. I sat down with our Art Director and we tried to draw some silhouettes of models posing with a pencil and imagined they were standing in a photo studio. The result was the first version of the logo with a very simple line and a shadow. Out of that we developed a version with just the line in combination with our domain name. One thing that turned in our favour was that we didn’t need a claim as our domain name already says it all: ModelManagement.com – that´s what it’s all about. We also added a male version of the logo – they look really cool on shirts.
Now that you’re a partner with Fashion TV, how do you foresee your content evolving?
We are very excited about this collaboration and not only will it give our model members more castings and the latest fashion news and trends, but with exposure to Fashion TV’s network we can discover more model stars of the future from all corners of the globe for the agencies and photographers that have signed up with us. Fashion TV is the perfect partner for us because this brings together fashion and modelling from both the television and the internet worlds
You’re clearly a fashionable founder; can you fill us in on who your favorite designers are?
I am a very simple person, when it comes to what I wear myself. I like casual and my own wardrobe is mainly filled with clothes from Pepe Jeans, Guess, AX and lately I added Hollister to my favorites list – probably inspired by my kids who have loved that since the first store opened in Barcelona. For the official moments, there is nothing better then a Hugo Boss Suit off course! From Fashion Shows and Magazines I am most impressed by Dolce & Gabbana and Custo [Barcelona] but I rarely find items that fit to my personal style.
Lastly, what advice do you have for those dreaming of getting into the fashion industry?
I think I should only give good advice for aspiring models and talents as those are the areas where I have most experience. I think there are more appropriate people to give advice to young fashion designers or stylists for example. My advice is: If you think you have got something special and you are exited about the idea to work as a model in the fashion or advertising industry, just give it a try. With a digital camera and Internet access you can have your pictures in front of the right people within a couple of hours. ModelManagement.com has already more then 2,000 Model Agents and 8,000 Photographers who created a profile and they are all looking contentiously for new talents. For those who want to invest a bit we created the ModelManagement.com Photo Session to provide models with professional photos, with no over-styling or harsh lighting, just the model looking their best for an affordable price. I would not recommend to invest a higher amount of money in modeling schools or expensive test shootings. I also think it is not a good idea to use Facebook or similar social networks to start a modeling career because there is not enough protection of privacy and you expose yourself to a community that has only very little to do with this industry.
And here is a very nice story of a model who asked me for the same 1 year ago. She probably did not regret to follow my advice.
Amazing insights from a major player in tech-fashion! We thank Andres von Estorff for chatting with MyFDB and if you haven’t already make sure to visit ModelManagement.com.
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