How African Designers And Photographers Contribute To Limiting African Models



It’s obvious the title of this article has already pushed some buttons especially amongst those around . In today’s world I think it’s sad that when we talk of African super models generally we are looking at ladies who left Africa to become successful or have one lineage of Africa via one parent.


I think it’s even more embarrassing that models in this vast continent called Africa, especially sub sahara Africa, define the Epiphany of their success by leaving Africa. Yes it’s not too far from the general reality that there are higher paid jobs in the West, but the reality is that when it comes to our activities in Africa, simple efforts to establish African top models are not even executed.


Let’s put aside this one main disclaimer, we all know there are a lot of unruly, dishonest and undisciplined models in Africa. Most whom get developed by agents and then once they establish a name try swindle themselves out of the contracts, or execute deals without the agents acknowledgement. Yes we are clear of that so let’s continue with this article with the exemption of those models.

I have always stated that subjectivity reigns throughout the fashion industry in Ghana. In fact we at are having a hard time with our social circles as we chose to be objective than subjective. Award organizers awarding people to maintain friendship, photographers giving model jobs because of their intimate relationships, bloggers refusing to publish articles based on the disdain they hold for someone and so forth.

Mimi @ Confidence Models
Mimi @ Confidence Models

And the subjectivity prevails simply because most of them do not make money from their craft to care about being consice and when there is no money there is no reason to put up a fight for success and that means no competition. So we have a very amateur industry of agents, photographer, bloggers and more that can walk proudly and claim their titles.

Within this trickles down to the models, but then also the decent models are victimized by this. This year we have publish quite a few look books across the African continent and you can see the tremendous amount here. What is unbelievable is less than half, maybe just about one third of the look books have used professional models. Or let’s say models that may have some sort of international potential.

So let’s look a bit deeper into it. Yes you have your friend, she is an aspiring model although she has no chance of international success maybe due to her height or her size (although she believe she does). Yes your cousin, she is beautiful, she could do good in your look book but she look not like a fashion model and has no intentions to be one. Nothing is to say because your cousin is not a pro model, or your friend has no chance internationally they can’t make your look book fantastic.


But that visibility or that portfolio addition has been cut off from that model that was on the path to breaking barriers. That little bit of money given could have sustained their careers and kept them going, or allow the ability to invest and develop themselves internationally has been limited. All for someone who will eventually quite modelling or never even pursue that career.

If these opportunities were centralized toward real models with real potential, and not just your friends, the girls you slept with or your family members, we could see a dramatic rise in not only the career paths of professional African models in Africa, but also their international branding as we currently live in the age of social media. The popularity of their faces, that might even open doors for international invites.

And besides all the other reasons why you would use an individual with limited opportunities, yes we do know you want to break the barriers, we know other people who don’t fit the mold deserve a chance. But right now, there is a simple reality and it’s known as the real world. And this very reason is what makes the search for models even more exciting, finding someone that fits the mold of international success, is disciplined and most of all has the look for your brand.

Let’s stop waiting for top designers from the West and other countries to make names out of our talent before we respect them, all whilst we are digging our lenses into models with no future. Because in the long run, when a model reaches success and her history is reviewed, it will stem back to your work.

So our message to photographers, stylists, designers and all those making model selection decisions. Don’t be afraid to go pro, don’t be afraid to look at the bigger picture.

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