NEW YORK, United States — Fifteen portraits, arranged in three rows, feature beautiful young women with curiously moving heads. Some look trapped, some lascivious, some vampiric. This is the striking, if somewhat eerie, tableau that greets visitors to the website of The Society Management, a new, Manhattan-based modelling agency launched by Elite Management Worldwide. And the message the company aims to convey seems clear: this is a new kind of web presence for a new kind of agency.
“In order for Elite World to remain competitive in the industry, it had to open a branch [in New York],” Vick Mihaci, president of Elite Management Worldwide and of The Society Management, told BoF. Until now, Elite World lacked a New York presence (the Elite World network is not directly affiliated with the North American branches of Elite, including Elite New York).
But importantly, the company is entering the crowded and competitive landscape of New York model management with more than the advantage of Elite World's global network and a number of veteran bookers who have defected from other agencies (including Kwok Kan Chan, who left Marilyn after almost 16 years to become The Society’s director of US operations). In the traditionally quick-turnover world of modelling, where girls usually last a few seasons, at most, The Society Management has a novel approach: a focus on long-term branding.
“Very few faces and names now have the ability to become memorable in the industry psyche, much less the public psyche. As a consequence, long-term career potential and the significance of the business itself have both suffered. We want to bring back and secure the concept of true longevity for our talents,” said Mihaci. “It is important to encourage our talents to explore interests beyond a single career path and allow them to develop well-rounded personas that resonate with both clients and general audiences alike, thus increasing their sales power. We aim to maintain a multidimensional perspective on talent management and be able to develop significant crossover projects.”
Amidst a democratising tide of digital media that has transformed fashion from a closed system to something of a consumer spectacle in which multimedia, personal branding opportunities abound, it's a highly relevant and compelling focus. And, indeed, The Society has already signed a roster of more than forty models, including sought-after names like Lindsey Wixson and Sigrid Agren, as well as rising newcomers like Manuela Frey and Mackenzie Drazan. The agency also represents established music industry artists like Grace Jones and Lily Allen.
Unsurprisingly, The Society is focused on leveraging new technologies to promote its models. “It’s about perfecting the combination of patient, strategic methods of developing a holistic career within the industry and implementing current technologies, such as social media, in order to publicise content to the general followers of the industry. Digital presence has made a significant impact in formulating careers in categories relevant to ours, and we must also harness its potential,” said Mihaci.
Each season, the agency plans to collaborate with creative talent from across the industry to develop its own original digital content featuring its models. “The purpose of such content is to help evolve our field towards a place where all of this talk of talent branding can actually materialise. It's really coming back to branding.”