"We want to be an ageless, raceless, weightless agency." So says Ivan Bart, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at IMG, the world's top modeling agency, which handles big names like Alek Wek, Gisele, Chanel Iman and Karlie Kloss.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Bart insisted that he's interested in having really great models — "the best" — regardless of what sample sizes dictate. And, to some extent, he's flexible on height, as well.
"I feel like the consumer wants to see themselves," he said. "Sure, there are women who are naturally thin and can fit into sample sizes, and the plus size market begins at a size 12, but where is the average consumer represented from a size 2 to 10?"
"We just want to represent the best," Bart continued. "With this new way of thinking, I can tell women who work so hard to get into the sample size, 'Eat! Be yourself, just be the best you can be — exactly how you are!' For us, as long as the talent is at a healthy weight that he or she and his or her doctor believe is right for them, and they're exercising, since that's a healthy way of life, then the industry should reflect that."
Of course, you can't just force designers and magazines to start using different shapes, colors and sizes. This is going to be an uphill climb, and Bart knows it. "We might not win in certain aspects of it and it might take a while for companies to adapt to what we're trying to do, because we still have to work with the industry and if they ask for a sample size, we have to deliver." At some agencies, the regular models are on one list and the plus models are on another; IMG will not be segregating them.
IMG already represents "plus" size model Tara Lynn, whom everyone likes to point out is not actually plus size, but in the modeling world, anything over a 10 or 12 can be considered "plus." Lynn is on the cover of Spanish Elle right now; she's also been on Italian Vogue, French Elle, and in the pages of V. The agency also has 83-year-old China Machado on its roster, and a smattering of other ladies over 40.
But it will be really interesting to see whether IMG's dedication to diversity is eventually reflected in magazines — and on the runways, where models of color continue to be under-represented. IMG has a lot of African Amercian, Brazilian, and Asian models, and as Bart tells Cosmo: "We've always tried to find the most diversely beautiful women in the world, and we can always do better."
Images via IMG