A 20-Year-Old Founded a Modeling Agency to Make Fashion More Diverse

 A 20-Year-Old Founded a Modeling Agency to Make Fashion More Diverse


  • Rare Select Models was established in 2017 to help promote diversity and inclusion in fashion.
  • Many brands have adopted different models of campaigns, aided by social activities.
  • The ads now feature models with darker complexions, hijabs, and non-European-centric beauty patterns.

Romany Francesa was just 20 years old when she set up Rare Select Models while still in university after discovering that some groups lacked representation in the fashion industry.

Francesca became a photographer and was often asked by casting directors if she knew of any models from ethnic minority backgrounds. He realized that there was a gap in the market to represent different models.

“I’ve noticed that the models that are typically chosen for campaigns and‘ look books ’have euro-centered features,” Francesca, now 25, told Insider. “It doesn’t look cool to have darker skin models or models wearing hijab in campaigns.”

Five years ago, models from Rare Select appeared in the high fashion campaigns of Vogue Italia, Valentino, Burberry, Gucci, Paul Smith and Stella McCartney.

Francesa has witnessed the fashion industry go through a period of self-correction in recent years by embracing diversity and inclusion in its advertising campaigns.

The Albino model is pictured wearing a bucket hat

The diversity of models featured on the covers of the magazine has increased over the past five years.

Theo Cottle


The British-Nigerian founder says it is against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement and especially since George Floyd’s protests, which have led to racist incidents in the industry being exposed.

Almost one in two runway shows for the Fall 2022 fashion season will have models in color, up from just under 30% in 2017, according to a report from The Fashion Spot, a fashion trend observer and diversity advocate.

However, plus-sized models accounted for only 2.3% of castings, up from 0.43% five years ago, according to The Fashion Spot. Castings on transgender and non-binary models increased from 0.17% for Fall 2017 to 1.34%.

Fashion Spot’s analysis of 685 magazine covers across 48 major titles found 52.9% color models on the covers in 2021 compared to 32.5% in 2017. It saw 47 models at age 50 on the covers last year, from 31 in 2017.

The number of transgender and non-binary models on magazine covers also increased, from three in 2017, to 13 in 2021.

The London-based entrepreneur says that before the event, three years ago, brands were not ready to show off different faces or bodies in their campaigns.

Pictured model wearing a t-shirt and posing in black and white

Model Alex Chan.

Isaac Smith


“It’s harder to get different models that were booked a few years ago but that’s changed,” he said.

Other areas of the industry have undergone incremental changes to reflect previously marginalized groups of visual materials.

“We’ve seen a lot of models with darker skins, wearing hijabs and from the trans community on display as the industry tries to correct its flaws in some way and learns if how to be more diverse and not cut themselves off from certain demographics, ”Francesca told the Insider. He praised companies like Fenty, Paul Smith and Zara for their “shocking” campaigns representing people from all backgrounds.

“We push our models to get exposure before‘ diversity ’and‘ inclusion ’become buzzwords and before they are seen as something companies need to do to not isolate themselves from customers. from different demographics, “says Francesca.

Close up photo of model wearing red highlighter

Model Emily Emru photographed by Rare Select Models founder Romany Francesca

Romany Francesca


Providing a table seat to people from a variety of backgrounds can help promote industry diversity the more they can use their influence and experiences to drive change.

“Having someone of color in a high position, I feel, has helped a lot,” he said.

Edward Enninful became the first black editor of British Vogue in 2017 and last year Ib Kamara became the first black editor-in-chief of Dazed.

“The cover of British Vogue for its February 2022 issue features all African models with darker complexions. These publications are a source of influence and direction and have always set the tone for others, “said Francesca.

“We’re hoping for Rare Select models to be valued and this is where organizations come first to source different models. We’re constantly scouting for people with disabilities, plus-size and ethnic minority models, “he added.



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