Back in May of 2014, when I first that heard that Londoner Nafisa Kaptownwala had launched Lorde, Inc, the first modeling agency for people of color, I was excited, but also curious about what this endeavor might lead to.
A year later, the agency has grown, steadily casting new talent via Tumblr and Instagram, and gathering major press mentions and editorials from outlets like Style.com, i-D, and Dazed & Confused.
What’s most refreshing about Lorde Inc, is it’s transparency. Kaptownwala is careful not construct an illusion of happy, shiny togetherness, and takes the ongoing conversation about diversity in fashion head on. This should not come as a surprise from an agency that takes it’s name from iconic radical feminist and womanist Audre Lorde.
“It’s important to know that this wasn’t something that I was pursuing because I felt like it gave my work an edge. I often find that stylists choose to work with models of color or cast non-conventional models for a sort of edge, that spice factor. I started casting models of color, models that look like my friends and I, because it’s a social injustice that we don’t see more of these faces more often. I was and am furious that models of color make up a dismal amount of models presenting at fashion weeks when some of the most outstandingly beautiful people I know are people of color. It just doesn’t make sense,” Kaptownwala wrote in an essay for Space Matters, earlier this month.
Kaptownwala also answers questions about the agency and her motivation via the Lorde Inc’s Tumblr page. The social blogging platform is a major hub of the activity for the agency, where she regularly shares updates and casting notices.
She patiently answers the slew of inquiries and repeated questions about the agency’s requirements in terms of body type, skin tone, etc., assuring that Lorde Inc doesn’t discriminate.
Who knows what the future holds for Lorde Inc, but the agency’s impact can’t be denied. In addition to expanding ideas of beauty, Nafisa Kaptownwala has also managed to do the seemingly impossible — she’s added nuance to the ongoing conversation about race and representation in fashion.