India's modelling industry embraces diversity

India’s modelling industry is beginning to embrace more diverse models with Anjali Lama, Shantanu Gosavi, Sakshi Bisht, and Priya Singh all gaining recognition for their unique beauty backed by modelling agencies.

Priya Singh stars in the House of Masaba bridal-wear campaign sporting a buzz cut - House of Masaba- Facebook

A number of modelling agencies are coming to the fore in India thanks to their more well-rounded view of beauty. Agencies Inega, Anima, Ninjas Model Management, and Feat.Cast have all signed models from diverse backgrounds. Designers too are beginning to feature a wider array of models in their campaigns.

Priya Singh is a model represented by Feat.Cast who sports a buzz cut and is a prime example of a more diverse definition of beauty.

“I believe we have arrived at a time where clients are realising that beauty doesn’t have one definition,” Singh’s agent told the Hindustan Times. “I’m really happy to see this change within the business and its positive effect reaching outside the business. We love that our faces represent people from all over the country. We don’t consider our models unconventional… the business and the country is ready to celebrate the beauty of India in all its glory.”

“I wasn’t expecting the kind of response I received from the fashion industry,” said Singh herself. “I thought that maybe I’d be restricted from certain kinds of shoots. But everyone loved it, and wanted to shoot me, which kind of surprised me, and still continues to, because I’m still shooting Indian clothes, and looks. For me that represents a big shift.”

Singh features in the latest House of Masaba advertising campaign for the brand’s new bridal line. The brand’s founder, Masaba Gupta, is herself bi-racial and has consistently spoken out against the Indian fashion industry’s bias towards pale skinned models.

The fact that Singh models alongside a number of other women of varying skin tones and hairstyles, all wearing bridal wear, shows that, far from being tokenised, her beauty is respected as much as the others.

Anjali Lama, a transgender model from Nepal, has also found success in India and has walked for a host of designers at Lakmé Fashion Week including Nakita Singh, Amit Aggarwal, and Soumodeep Dutta. Lama has used her platform to speak about transgender rights and has become well known in the industry.

Other models that are finding fame for unique beauty include Shantanu Gosavi from Ahmedabad who has a skin condition called Vitiligo (Leucoderma) and has been modelling since 2016. Gosavi has made his unique look a strong point in the industry.

Sakshi Bisht from Dehradun is also becoming increasingly well-known and her cleft palette has not stopped her from modelling for a number of fashion magazines.

“Indian fashion has become globalised and the demand for unconventional-looking models has increased,” Ninja Singh, the founder of Ninjas Model Management told the Hindustan Times. “Sakshi has done some really cool editorials and has also been working regularly with a leading e-commerce portal. Her lip cleft only makes her unique.”

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