Local modelling agencies clueless

By Rosalia David

NAMIBIAN models have come out all guns blazing towards the fashion industry labelling local modelling agencies as ‘nothing but money making schemes’ due to the fact that new agencies are introduced almost every year but later vanish into thin air.

Confidente spoke to a few household names in the industry regarding the status quo of modelling agencies in the country and this is what they had to say.

Having worked on numerous ad campaigns and walked on some of the most famous runways around the world, Chelsi Shikongo has expressed displeasure towards local agencies saying that they are milking money out of those who genuinely want to pursue a fruitful modelling career.

“I think there is a misconception about modelling agencies in Namibia. So many people create these platforms and charge the poor girls who aspire to make it into the industry who end up getting empty promises. Some of them are just initiated to make money from people,” she said.

She said that an agency is supposed to invest in a model and work so that they become successful and only then can they claim a percentage from the model’s income when their career starts to bear fruit.

“I will never get signed under a modelling agency locally but rather take up opportunities in other countries.  I have distanced myself from working in Namibia because of my past experiences. Our fashion industry is not serious, even the Fashion Council consists of a bunch of friends. We don’t have a proper structure here,” stressed Shikongo.

She went on to say that there is more to an agency than taking pictures of models and posting them on social media.

“Our local agencies organise photoshoots and post the pictures and that is where it ends. So much needs to be done to shape the industry and win back the trust of many models because it has affected those who genuinely want to start an agency with a good motive.”

Shikongo who has also become the blueprint for those who aspire to take their modelling careers internationally further encourages models to rather do research about an agency before signing up.

She is currently signed under AVE Model Management in Singapore, Boss Models in Cape Town and ‘Most Wanted Models’ in Munich.

Miss Namibia 2019 second princess Johanna Swartbooi who is signed under a Cape Town-based modelling agency, Circle Management, also shared the same sentiment saying that local agencies lack knowledge on what should be done.

“Models should really do research first, look for the agency’s website and do thorough investigation on it before they join. There are models paying a monthly fee (to modelling agencies) and they are not supposed to be doing that,” she stated.

She further availed herself for any enquiry regarding the matter.

“I am active on Instagram, if there is anyone who wants to ask questions, they can DM me, I can help. Before joining, ask a lot of questions,” she said.

Another model who preferred to remain anonymous said she had invested money in a local modelling agency that promised to make her big in the industry but nothing happened.

She said she paid N$350 every month but was only trained three times in a year.

“I joined the agency for a year and they said we will be getting training, take part in fashion shows, cooperate adverts, get us gigs and graduate, but the last time I heard of that agency was in 2017,” she stressed.

She added that modelling agencies are owned by people who simply want to enrich themselves without knowing the motive behind an agency. “An agency is supposed to work for the model and get them jobs, not the other way around. People wonder why Namibian parents don’t support modelling careers … it is because sometimes you claim to be a model but can’t even buy bread at home.”

Contacted for a comment on the issue, Fashion Council of Namibia marketing consultant David Vaultz urged models to reach out to the council to get more information on the agency they intend to join.

“We are busy setting up an information centre where models and many others can get information on how to navigate around the industry,” he said.

Space Model Academy chief executive officer Hosea Hanga also supported the council’s view saying that models should first do research on agencies before joining.