Young and vibrant London based model agency CHAPTER Management already comprised a roster of breakthrough stars and prolific top models thanks to its mindful approach to business while paying attention to the needs of their talent and clients. Our Editor-in-Chief ZARKO DAVINIC sits down with ex model, Co-founder and Director DANIEL THOMAS JONES to talk about Chapter’s beginning, changes in the fashion industry and what is to come after the COVID19 crisis.
When and how did you get interested in the modelling industry? – Completely out of luck. About a year after moving to London to study I was scouted to be a model. After 8 years being in front of the camera, and after witnessing some of the negative sides of the industry, I realised I get more satisfaction out of helping others succeed. It was then that I made the decision to work towards creating an agency that was for the model, not the client and I’ve been lucky to meet some very inspirational people along the way including the team at Chapter.
We wanted to disrupt the standard agency formula. The agents here at Chapter are art directors, producers, strategists but most of all mentors. For us we want to build a connection and relationship with our talent, a bond and a trust
How did you discover that you have an “eye” for selecting models? – I don’t think any scout will tell you 100% that they have an “eye” for selecting models. At Chapter we base it off of whether we are passionate that they will work, if we are then we know we will do everything in our power to make that model successful. In some cases success can be instantaneous in others it can take a few years. You have to trust your gut.
What is the first thing you notice in a future model? – Of course I guess the obvious answer is their look. I would like to reiterate when we say ‘look’ we mean do they have a workable ‘look’? Is there a space in the market for them? What trumps our initial impression is them as a person; who they are and what is their passion, their voice. Sometimes as cliché as this is : what’s on the inside and drives them is more important than their measurements and aesthetic.
What would you say sets apart Chapter Management from other model agencies? – Chapter was born out of a need for proactive not reactive management. We wanted to disrupt the standard agency formula. The agents here at Chapter are art directors, producers, strategists but most of all mentors. For us we want to build a connection and relationship with our talent, a bond and a trust. I think that’s why we believe it’s so important for us to have a real boutique style and if we grow we need to make sure we have a great balance of agents to models.
Today the fashion industry recognised the need for diversity, however do you think the clients are genuinely ready for a diverse model industry? – I think that’s more of a question for the clients haha, Are they? Who knows really… I guess there’s always the performative aspect for brands and I think the work is down to the agents to push and be passionate. There are a few agencies I really respect for doing such a great job with pushing diversity and equality in our industry but there is still a long way to go in terms of equal representation.
There is a role to be played for social but I still don’t think it’s the be all and end all especially with the more luxury clients. They want the right talent for the job, not the right number of followers
Unlike women’s market why do you think the male model industry and clients have struggled to embrace the idea of plus size male models? – Men’s plus size is where women’s was 10 years ago. I think the more the conversation about body positivity is promoted and talked about, the more bodies of all shapes, sizes and genders are going to be embraced. We shouldn’t have to be patient but I’m proud of how our industry changes and develops, even if it’s not as quick as we would all like.
How challenging has it been working with now over a year long Covid restrictions? – Ha! Chapter officially launched in October 2019 and Covid hit in March 2020. For us the financial pressure wasn’t a problem as our overheads at the time were so low. However, making sure we stayed relevant and in the casting directors’ minds was a fight to say the least. I can only commend our amazing team, my incredible business partner Kathy Pryer and our wonderful models for understanding the situation. It’s safe to say, I think we’ve come out of it with a lot more clarity as to what’s important to both the company and our models.
So, how do you think Covid affected the modelling industry? – Although we aren’t out of the woods yet, this industry has to be one of the most sassy and resilient there is… we all always find a way and although agencies are in competition there has been a camaraderie this year that has far outweighed the competitive nature of the business.
We sign the model based on who they are. If they aren’t people that promote and use social media, we don’t force them to. At the end of the day we aren’t very good agents if we can’t get our models jobs because they happen to have a low following and engagement
With COVID19 crisis, how do you think the demand for models with large social media following has changed? – I think this is more dependent on the brands you are working with rather than the models themselves. Of course there is a role to be played for social but I still don’t think it’s the be all and end all especially with the more luxury clients. They want the right talent for the job, not the right number of followers.
Do you encourage models to build up their social media presence? – We do not. We sign the model based on who they are. If they aren’t people that promote and use social media, we don’t force them to. At the end of the day we aren’t very good agents if we can’t get our models jobs because they happen to have a low following and engagement. We of course explain the benefits of self promotion and make suggestions on how to have a presence whilst being authentic and true to themselves.
Who are the guys on your new faces board on the way to becoming future top models? – Every model we take on we hope to be a future top model; they just may take different routes or time to get there. I don’t like pinpointing models and especially after the year we have had I wouldn’t want to. Take a look at our models.com and Instagram and draw your own judgement. This year the smallest job could have been the biggest achievement and we are proud of each and everyone of our guys just for getting through it.
As a London based agency how have you prepared for the effects of Brexit? – The only answer I have for this is we have been trying to up our scouting. Not just in the UK but in Europe too however my truthful and honest answer is: I have no idea. We’ll cross that bridge and when we do we’ll adapt accordingly.
Where do you see the modelling industry in 10 years from today? – Wherever we take it. Only we have the power to change things for the better and hopefully we will all make conscious and fair decisions to create an industry of respect and equality.
Keep up with CHAPTER Management @chaptermgmt
Interview originally published in MMSCENE Magazine’s Issue 36 – read it now.