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Meet the Unconventional Models Redefining the Fashion Industry 

Conventional body size and fashion looks are things of the past. Meet the unconventional models of fashion industry! 

Published
Lifestyle
4 min read
Domestic help turned model, Kamla’s fascinating pictures are now viral on internet. (Photo Courtesy: Shades of India)

For 28-year-old Kamla, it was a daily routine. She would go in and out of that building for work, leaving her two kids behind. Her routine was usual and so was her job as a house-maid. So when designer Mandeep Nagi, from the fashion and furnishing house, Shades of India, approached Kamla to be a model for their next collection, Kamla’s biggest worry was, ‘she had never dressed up so much before’

Everyday, I would see her coming into my building as domestic help. I somehow felt that this person has a lot more about herself than what we see. Then one day I called her in and spoke to her about my idea. She was very hesitant. Anybody would be. But I told her this might be her one and only chance to do something like this in life.
Mandeep Nagi, Designer, Shades Of India.
Conventional body-size and fashion look is giving way to a real, raw and simplistic idea of beauty. (Photo Courtesy: Kamla, Shades Of India)
Conventional body-size and fashion look is giving way to a real, raw and simplistic idea of beauty. (Photo Courtesy: Kamla, Shades Of India)

Domestic help turned model, Kamla’s fascinating pictures are now viral on internet.

The idea of choosing unconventional models for fashion shoots and launches is picking up with fashion houses in India. From transgenders, to housewives, to plus-size models and acid attack survivors, the conventional body size and fashion look is giving way to real, raw and simplistic idea of beauty.

Our clothes are not fashion. They are for women who are day-to-day, and women who don’t need to fit into the idea of a specific body type to wear these clothes.
Mandeep Nagi
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Mitr Trust is raising funds for the transgender modelling agency through crowd funding. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/fgg37c6k">GoFundMe</a>)&nbsp;
Mitr Trust is raising funds for the transgender modelling agency through crowd funding. (Photo Courtesy: GoFundMe

The Delhi-based LGBT charity, Mitr Trust, launched India’s first transgender modelling agency in January 2016. The idea was to include the third gender in the fashion and beauty industry where they are usually overlooked.

What’s funny in the fashion world is that, on the one hand we want to push boundaries and say we’re taking risks – and on the other hand, we keep playing it safe and going mainstream. This project is a shout out, to everyone who believes transgenders are little more than wedding dancers or people who come to your child’s birth. They’re regular people who want to do regular jobs.
Rishi Raj, Fashion Stylist associated with the project.

The conventional idea of beauty is being challenged by customers, brands, and communities together. In the time of social media, responses can be tested live and many then follow the route to be a part of the ‘revolutionary idea’.

MakeLoveNotScars, an acid-attack survivor support group, launched an awareness campaign in 2015, based on ‘a different idea of beauty.’ After a lot of fashion magazines denied to put a ‘scarred face’ on their cover, Ria Sharma, the founder of the group collaborated with Ogilvy to create huge billboards with Reshma as the ‘star’.

Acid attack survivor Laxmi’ modelled for Viva-Diva’s apparel launch. (Photo Courtesy: Viva-Diva)
Acid attack survivor Laxmi’ modelled for Viva-Diva’s apparel launch. (Photo Courtesy: Viva-Diva)

Soon after this, Viva-Diva, an online appeal brand, decided to launch their new collection with an acid attack survivor and activist Laxmi Saa as their ‘role’-model.

The fashion industry works on the rule that if the model is ‘pretty’ and  flawless, the product is flawless. We wanted to re-think this idea and present our collection through somebody who can actually own the goodness and finesse of our product through her life story. Laxmi’s life is a perfect example of that. She made all the wrongs right for herself through her courage.
Ayushi Rastogi, Designer, Viva-Diva 
Behind the camera footage of ‘Kamla’s fashion shoot’ with Shades of India (Photo: GIF)
Behind the camera footage of ‘Kamla’s fashion shoot’ with Shades of India (Photo: GIF)

In almost all such fashion shoots, what stands out is the fact that these people who don’t expect themselves to be models, suddenly feel empowered as they face the camera.

Kamla has transitioned from a shy, coy, hesitant woman to a confident, bubbly, care-free lady by the end of the shoot. This is a woman’s real self. They are managing houses, they manage families, they earn, they are the role-models in the true sense.
Mandeep Nagi 
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Plus Size Models are being used by a lot of apparel brands in India now (Photo Courtesy: PSMI <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Plussizeindiianwomen/photos_stream">Facebook Page</a>)
Plus Size Models are being used by a lot of apparel brands in India now (Photo Courtesy: PSMI Facebook Page)

Also, catching on the trend, are online modeling agencies like Plus Size Models India, that provide models for plus size brands and fashion industry.

“We started in 2012 and I would say the trend is picking up. But the problem is plus-size women still don’t see themselves as professional models. They need more grooming and acceptance of the fact that the idea of beauty is changing and fashion as an industry is no longer the propounder of body-shaming”.

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