Is COVID-19 changing the way we cast models forever? - QVSTA
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Is COVID-19 changing the way we cast models forever?

The life of a model was always a huge jet lag. Traveling from city to city for fashion weeks and photo shootings has been the major activity for models for centuries. Now that this is completely on hold due to COVID-19, the question rises will we ever go back to normal or will this situation change modelling forever?

The Status Quo

The industry is completely on hold. Productions are being canceled, traveling is almost impossible and marketing budgets have been reduced. EyeEm announces an increase of photographers switching to licensing imagery to overcome this time. Fashion weeks are canceled. Ecommerce studios are either closing the production entirely or working with hollow man. Vogue will likely use existing images for upcoming magazine covers.

The crisis is an existential threat to many in the creative industry, with lots of them working as freelancers. Many freelancers are still waiting to get payed, but with companies reducing spendings, they might even miss out on jobs done months ago. For models, the lockdown also means keeping up a healthy lifestyle and maintaining shape is harder. The industry’s driving cities like New York and Milan are even hit the hardest so it seems unlikely that things will cool down soon for the modeling industry.

The Development

Here are 3 observations that hint towards the drastic changes in the way brands and designers cast models after COVID-19:

1. Local talents are more important than ever

Choosing a city for the next photo shooting always had numerous aspects to consider and the amount, type, and quality of local models will be an important factor in the future. Having models travel around the world every other day is not only costly but also damaging the environment. Brands that have to work with local talents will now realize the benefits of short-term availability, reduced costs, and no visa struggles and will likely continue working with local talents after COVID-19. At QVSTA we put together a list of local talents in various cities and also allow casters to filter models by location – which is more heavily used since the outbreak.

2. Remote work changes castings

Casting directors have to reinvent their work as casting models typically involved seeing a lot of talent personally and that just doesn’t work anymore now. Digital and remote workflows like e-castings or virtual go sees will not replace physical castings but provide value for smaller projects and to pre-select models. Casting directors will utilize these tools during COVID-19 and then adopt these into their workflows in the future. This might actually lower the amount of in-person castings done in the future.

3. Models have to reinvent themselves, AGAIN

In the past, a model just had to look good and move well. With social media this thing changed as now personality, authenticity, and following is a major driver in a model’s success. COVID-19 now again changes the game: Models are asked to do their make-up and styling by themselves to prevent close contact with stylists or make-up artists. Others are even asked to do home shootings (like selfies in the brand’s newest collection). Even Vogue plans to do cover shoots with models at home. Nike has pivoted its social media content strategy almost entirely tailored towards home workout and keeping healthy while in lockdown. Models that can keep up with these changing requirements, and not only look pretty and have a big following, but also act as their self-made art director, will become more successful. They can now build a brand that lasts beyond COVID-19.

The Outlook

These shifts in the market could likely lead towards a huge innovation spike in the industry of producing content and as such also on the modeling world. Companies like Looklet are offering virtual avatars to subside castings, which will likely find more interest beyond the crisis. Also, technology solutions to help people communicate and work remotely like Slack or Zoom will be integrated substantially in the work-life. More meetings will be done via a video conference than before. This is a huge opportunity to bring people in the industry closer together.

Putting it all together we don’t know how long this situation is going to last and surely, the longer it will, the bigger it’s impact on the modelling industry. Changes made by casters, modeling agencies, and models today, will impact tomorrow.