The pandemic is accelerating the power shift in fashion and advertising
NEW YORK (AP) — The pandemic has accelerated a power shift in the worlds of fashion and advertising, with models and influencers out of necessity exercising more control over their own images during remote photo and video shoots .
Modeling agencies are asking companies to ship clothes directly to models, advertisers are launching crowdsourcing video campaigns, and creative directors are finding innovative ways to choose their best shots on Zoom.
Julia Haart says her Elite World Group, which manages more than 4,000 fashion talents worldwide, pivoted during the height of the pandemic to survive, when traditional shoots were impossible due to travel restrictions and distancing social.
She reached out to brands like Urban Outfitters, Zara and Madewell directly, urging them to send clothes, jewelry and handbags to her models. And she called on models to show their personality when shooting the products themselves.
“Think of the traditional model world, who ran the world: they were photographers, they were videographers, they were magazine editors,” she said. “Now with social media, with the digital space, it’s talent that goes directly to people. He democratized fashion.
Model Héloïse Guérin has experienced this first-hand, even styling some of her own shoots. The products were mailed to her home where she and her husband, photographer Victor Demarchelier, took the shots.
“Even though we had a lot of Zoom meetings with clients, they still gave us a lot of room for creativity and freedom, which we really appreciated,” she said in an email to the Associated Press. “It was so much more fun than being ‘just a model’ and it was so rewarding.”
Although Guérin is uniquely positioned to create a quality product with a professional photographer under her roof, not all models are so lucky.
Haart says less than half of the models she manages have had the opportunity and ability to shoot their own material. Still, she sees the shift towards models having more control over their personal brand as sustainable, so she continues to push in that direction, even as some models begin to return to studios.
“I don’t want to be Blockbuster,” she said. “I want to be Netflix.”
It was this same attitude that led Amy Zunzunegui to change her strategy as she was about to launch her skincare brand, WLDKAT.
When the pandemic forced her to cancel her planned launch event, she instead mounted a self-shot video campaign featuring 14 women using her products.
“We gave them images and a kind of vibe and energy. And they did it in a silo in their own natural habitat with their own equipment,” she said. “And what’s so cool is that we’ve been allowed to give these content creators a voice.”
Pandemic leads to remote pivot and power shift
The adapt or die mentality has spread beyond modeling and advertising, hitting the music and film industry as well.
Quinn XCII used a Zoom collaboration to make her voice heard during the pandemic. The singer-songwriter teamed up with director Blythe Thomas to create a music video for his song “Coffee” using footage from Zoom, security cameras and other video shot by Quinn XCII’s wife.
Thomas shot the video from New York while Quinn XCII filmed from her home in Los Angeles. It took longer than expected. “We had a call the night before, we were like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a five or four hour shoot,'” Thomas said. “And then it was like a 14-hour shoot.”
Others who have directed and shot remotely, like photographer Cedrick Jones, agree that collaborating over Zoom and FaceTime can be time-consuming. When taking FaceTime portraits of models, musicians and actors, Jones helps them find the right lighting in their home and shows them where to put their phone to get the perfect shot.
“The response has been cool,” he said. “I’m always shocked at what I can get.”
For him, switching to remote work wasn’t necessarily a career decision, but a creative one.
“You feel like a painter,” he said. “You have to paint something.”
While artists and creatives are content with working remotely, some, like “Riverdale” star Cole Sprouse, have tried to avoid the Zoom and FaceTime workaround altogether.
“I think at first when it was a novel, it sounded really interesting, but I think it got oversaturated,” Sprouse said. “But I think it’s intriguing how people manage to shoot and stay safe.”
It is difficult to know what the lasting impact on these industries will be. Jones and Thomas are planning smaller crews for photography and videography shoots in the future. Guérin plans occasional remote filming even in a post-pandemic world.
Thomas said she missed the comfort of a music video set, especially for a second Quinn XCII music video she directed, a ballad called “Second Time Around” which focuses on self-forgiveness. .
“When something is a bit more serious in content as a director, you definitely want to be there and, like, kind of protect things for the artist,” Thomas said. “There’s something to be said for those tried and tested playing days where you have all the bells and whistles necessary.”
Quinn XCII was pleased with the results, which he says show that “we can still be creative ourselves, even with these limitations.”