Representation in the world of modeling, fashion, and entertainment has long been a point of contention for people who don’t fit into the binary view of the world. Stories of agencies turning down male models for being too effeminate, and the like, are all too familiar.
Many modeling agencies won’t even represent models who are openly queer, or can’t appear to be “gender conforming,” thus proving that the parameters for what’s still considered commercially attractive and viable are still very narrow.
Enter New Pandemics, the up-and-coming New York City modeling agency working exclusively with LGBTQ+ models. The agency was started by Cody Chandler (who has worked in casting with some of fashion’s finest including Steven Meisel and Klein) with the ambitious and noble aim of giving marginalized models a voice in an, at times, stifling industry. New Pandemics is a place where brands can seek out talent that is truly diverse, but time will tell if they’re biting.
“I know several models with mainstream agencies that can’t be vocal about their identities or sexuality at all; this is another reason that I wanted to start New Pandemics,” Chandler told Dazed. “There’s no excuses anymore, that’s the thing. I don’t want to let brands have an excuse anymore because I’m giving it, I’m providing the space.”
That space currently houses 15 diverse talents, many of which are young models who have crafted followings through their social media accounts. Some of the names included on New Pandemic’s Instagram include NYC influencers like Anuary Pena aka @halal.diva, Mecca Mozelle (@lovealittlee), and Alex Arauz (@alxzv).
“Visibility is an antidote to otherness and it’s so important that people are exposed to people that are different to them, or similar to them as well. To feel like they have a community and that they belong.”