Beyond Bollywood: Indian Models Takeover International Runways

Indian Models Takeover International Runways

India is going places on the global map of fashion, and Indian talent is making a mark on international runways. We asked modelling management agencies to share their thoughts. 

With the fashion industry continuing to incorporate diversity, reflecting on a commitment to inclusivity - Indian models have been reaping the benefits. India has found a new prominence within the world of fashion following the success of Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 showcase at the Gateway of India in Mumbai in March. The show brought with it a star-studded guestlist, including the likes of Cara Delevigne, Karlie Kloss, Maise Williams, and social media fashion sensation Bryan Yambao.

“Doors started to open for our Indian girls since Pooja Mor’s debut for the LV Cruise show in 2015. With each year it becomes more and more and I feel after Dior came to India and casted 90% of Indian faces, this further contributed to the influx of requests for Indian models internationally,” says Gunita Stobe, co-founder of Anima Creative Management.

The surge for Indian models on the runway began in 1994 when Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sushmita Sen became Miss World and Miss Universe, respectively, and has remained a mainstay. As much as runway veterans Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, Gigi and Bella Hadid are adored and appreciated, it’s time the world familiarises itself with the new wave of Indian models who continue to represent diversity on these coveted catwalks.

When mentioning a shift in casting practices within luxury brands and the increased volume of Indian and Southeast Asian presence, Stobe’s heart filled with joy as she went on to say “I am glad to see now a sea of Indian faces with all shades of skin tones and features from all across India represented globally. Now the time is in full bloom for Indian and Southeast Asian faces which is absolutely great and I hope it will stay there and not just become a trend.”

To further emphasise India’s growing presence in the global limelight, we spoke to leading Indian modelling agencies to get an industry insight.

 

“Cultural diversity isn’t just a fleeting trend; it’s a recognition that brands have embraced the significance of representation and inclusivity across all marketing platforms, whether it’s a campaign or a runway show. This shift also aligns with the acknowledgement of the Indian customer base as the next major untapped growth market in the fashion industry.”

Amrita Masani, Founder and Director, Faze Management

 

“The shift in model casting signifies a more inclusive approach, embracing diverse talent. As an agency, we represent this diversity by consistently featuring models of various ethnicities, genders, and body types in our shows and campaigns, actively participating in inclusivity initiatives, and fostering a transparent commitment to equal representation at all levels of our organisation.”

Pankaj Arora, Director, Inega Model Management

 

 

The Indian Takeover

September marks the end of Fashion Week and we have seen a widespread of Indian talent on the roster across Paris, Milan, London, and New York. Notable Indian talent for Fashion Week include:

  • Bhumika Arora - walked for Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs
  • Pooja Mor – walked for Tory Burch
  • Neelam Gill – walked for Diesel and Burberry
  • Avanti Nagrath – walked for Hermès, Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Alberta Ferretti and Boss
  • Diya Prabhakar – walked for Falguni Shane Peacock, Alexander Wang, and Manish Arora
  • Dipti Sharma – walked for Oscar de la Renta, Dries Van Noten, and Michael Kors
  • Neil Varel – modelled for Brandon Murphy and Fendi
Avanti Nagrath for Dior

“Our industry is heavily driven by inspiration and creativity which means there are too many different aspects involved while scouting new faces and making decisions to offer representation. Fashion, like art, is very subjective. What is diverse to one, may not be to another,” Stobe tells BurdaLuxury. Stobe is not alone as Pankaj Arora also reflects on this shift, stating “As India finds its place in the world, as a country we are reflecting that within too. There’s testimony of this, with the Indian models excelling on the international stage too. Avanti Nagrath being a fine example.” He further shares that “fashion is becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive. Designers and fashion brands are realising the importance of representing a variety of cultures and backgrounds, both on and off the runway. This shift is driven by a desire to be more reflective of the global population and to cater to a broader customer base.”

The boom of Indian talent internationally has also generated positive impact domestically. Stobe shares with us that “the change has coincided with the success of Indian faces abroad. Once Indian models started to make an impact on the biggest shows and campaigns internationally, the local market seemed to change locally. Fashion magazines now started to support Indian faces so much more than before in their editorial pages, and so do local designers for their brand campaigns.”

 

Championing Inclusivity and Diversity

“We prioritise diversity to reflect our global audience, ensuring a mix of races, ethnicities, and body types.” Pankaj tells BurdaLuxury. He goes on to explain how diverse portfolios are maintained at Inega Model Management, “curating a diverse model roster entails proactively sourcing models from a range of backgrounds to ensure equitable representation. This fosters inclusivity, aligning with our audience’s diversity, and cultivates a brand image that is both relatable and welcoming.”

At Anima Creative Management, the entire board comprises of models that have inspired the founders. “We never base our scouting decisions on politics and are not driven by short-lived trends to attract media attention, rather we are based on passion for our work, passion to discover, nurture, groom and support emerging new faces with aim of creating long lasting international career pathways in modelling. Our models and their personal journeys and stories represent the agencies brand of Anima.”

In the words of Amrita Masani, “The fashion industry has been on a transformative journey, gradually shedding its earlier inflexibility regarding a singular definition of beauty. Today, models with all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, skin tones, and body types are wholeheartedly accepted – the more diverse, the better.” She adds, “inclusivity and diversity have been cornerstones of Faze’s mission since its inception. We were pioneers in the industry by establishing a dedicated Bengaluru division to scout and exclusively represent talent from South India. Moreover, we’ve constantly represented a wide range of models from Northeast India long before it became a trend.”

Things are changing in fashion, and this is only the beginning. Could Indian talent continue its momentum on international runways? We would say so.

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Arushi Sakhuja

Arushi Sakhuja
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