The ‘Uber for Models’ Launches: Will Traditional Modeling Agencies Now Suffer?

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In the world of on-demand apps, Uber reigns as king. Shortly after its widespread success and now overall value of $50 billion, other on-demand apps swiftly followed suit. From Uber-inspired wine delivery services to healthcare and beauty, Uber has sparked an industrial movement — curating one-touch immediate access to a variety of services for a fraction of the cost. But in the fashion scheme of things, would an Uber-esque app for model scouting turn similar results? Fashion agency professionals tend to think ‘no.’ Read on as we explore more.



Traditional modeling agencies trudge through arduous scouting processes to instruct and train their professional roster of models. Large scale brands and businesses typically select agency models for high-profile projects, on the basis of these high expectations.

Casting director Jennifer Starr, whose past and present clients include Calvin Klein, Gap, and others comments on this procedure in a recent article. “There is a level of accountability when I book a model on a big job through an agency. I know they will show up and be on time and be professional, for the most part. In the past I have cast models on the street. It’s a bit of a risk, right? If you don’t really know them, you can’t vouch for how they will act on set. Also, [through an agency] their participation is well understood and defined contractually, which is good for both the model and client.”



Now enters Swipecast, a new model scouting app for Apple’s iPhone, launched by former hedge fund investor turned entrepreneur Peter Fitzpatrick. The app as compared to Uber, allows fashion industry professionals such as photographers, stylists, brands, and the like, to book models directly through the app, rather than going through an agency. Whereas an agency receives traditional commissions of 30% and up, Swipecast receives 10% commission, with models receiving payments within one to two days of project completion.

While Swipecast verifies and researches its model participants and app users, the threat to traditional agency structures is still uncertain. Although Fitzpatrick asserts that the Swipecast model is more for aspiring models in “under-served local markets,” its effectiveness and reliability is still under fire. “Your typical model works one or two days per week,” Fitzpatrick comments. “Agents have favorites and certain girls fall through the cracks. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for a model to network and access opportunities in real time, in a safe environment?”



Just like Uber, the app is extremely user friendly for industry professionals in search of models. Models are required to upload a portfolio and vetted industry clients can browse through the models using a filter dependent on their specifications and requirements. While Fitzpatrick believes that the fashion industry is in need of this type of technology, only time will tell. Will Uber-inspired model sourcing ultimately replace traditional model agencies?  We’ll just have to wait this one out and see.



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