Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Economics of a Fashion Career

Craig Arend of has another interesting interview with a fashion insider. Last time it was founder of Next Model Management, Faith Kates. This time it's Storm Models founder Sarah Doukas, aka the woman who discovered Kate Moss. Freja is never mentioned outright in these interviews, but I always think that what is being said naturally relates to her and to all models. If the models are what draw you to fashion, then it's so intriguing to hear insight and perspectives from the people who deal firsthand with bringing our favorite girls to light.

Here are some excerpts, but read the whole thing if you have the time and are interested in model development.
"...Look at our magazines. Look at the campaigns. They're all celebrities. Actresses. Somebody well known, they take up what, 80-90% of fabulous campaigns. You know that's because that's the power of somebody whose got a name....

But if you're in the business. If you see your chance that somebody can go that route and if they want to, you've got to take it because it's going to be a huge benefit financially to them and it's going to be a benefit to the feeds on itself. As soon as you do some press, it's unbelievable. You get so many opportunities open. People are calling. It opens doors." (my emphasis)
I know I've mentioned this little theory here before, but I think IMG and the recession are playing a huge hand in Freja's current career status. One thing I've never been able to wrap my head around is why Freja is seeing such a resurgence at this stage in her career. She started off really huge, booking exclusives and only-girl, blue chip campaigns. But as we all know, the lifespan of a model's career is usually pretty short. Most girls only get a few seasons before we unabashedly move on to the next it girl from the next it country. So this is how I see things: Freja had two really good years after her debut in 2005, but then she started to fade away as expected. By the end of 2007, she cut her signature long hair and fringe off, skipped lots of big shows and was booking less print work. By all accounts she should have been done. She should have faded away to the occasional Asian ad campaign and appearance in some random catalog. But she didn't. She came back stronger than ever, but nearly unrecognizable from the simple Danish girl in the Ksubis and keffiyeh that she once was. She was cooler, smoother and more part of the industry than she ever had been before.

She was doing more press, projecting a laid back yet untouchable image, and booking more campaigns than ever before. This career roundabout started happening towards the end of 2008 and gained full momentum during 2009, just as the economy was going bust. We could just chalk that up to coincidence, but I really think more was at play. IMG, being a huge, worldwide company, stood to lose a lot of money in the face of pecuniary caution brought about by worldwide economic panic. So what do they do? Step it up and really make their best girls work. Get the most out of them and really capitalize on their earning power in order to lessen the impact of the recession. After all, the FW0910 campaign season was Freja's best one yet. I know I'm not really doing a good job of explaining my theory, but it all makes sense in my head. And Sarah's quote above seems to give some backing to my thoughts. But of course, it's just a theory because how much can I possibly know about what really goes on?

Anyway, here is another quote from the interview that I think is quite unintentionally funny, especially if you're a Freja fan:
"You know you always get these girls that make a load of money. You know they're fantastic looking girls and they're doing brilliantly. And they're like, "you know what, I'm going to cut all my hair off. I'm going to go seriously edgy. I want you to get me into...." And I'm like "You're taking a massive risk. You're going to ruin your market in the short-term" And it happens. It does happen. I can mention lots of girls who it has happened....I always think, "You should be glad for what you've got. I understand wanting to aspire to better and greater things. But, you could in the short term lose your whole market "
Doesn't it sound like Sarah is specifically talking about Freja here? I know that some people still blame the short hair for her 2008 career slump. That could be the case, but things are rarely that simple and straightforward. I'm sure there were lots of other complex factors at play. Lots of other minute details all combining into one path that has led us Freja to the career she has today. All theories and musings aside, no one really knows what's happened and why but Freja herself. Isn't it fun to speculate though?

Fashion week now. I'll try to update as much as possible, but I'm only going to do updates on the first show Freja walks in each city, and then a recap on the entire city. It's just too repetitive to cover each show because I know all of you will be refreshing tFS every second. Of course, this is all assuming that Freja even walks. Only a few more days before we find out for sure. :)

1 comment:

SF said...

i'll admit i did take a break(a short one) from freja after she cut her hair but her career wasn't in that much a shamble as i recall she had Armani and Ferre at one point.
the only model i can think of that went skyhigh with short hair is Anja Rubik. Iris didn't do too bad either. i guess it's a matter of luck.

ps: don't stop your fashion week coverage. Freja's thread isn't worth going anymore...for me at least.;)