Gareth Roberts, director of agency First Models in London shares his industry insight with Model Village during an exclusive interview, revealing what agencies really look for when scouting models, what happens during a fashion week, the best capital city to work in and more bespoke advice.
Gareth studied mechanical engineering at Kingston University in London before shortly realising his creative interest in the modelling and fashion industry. He began his career as a booker at Premier models, working with the talent agency for over 6 years, moving to Next Model Management for a further 5 years before firmly establishing his own agency, First Models. He has built his own team of industry professionals, talent and successfully established a notable agency which represents international talent who are booked by clients from around the world, including Vogue, Marie Claire, Burberry, Adidas and more.
• PROCRASTINATE MAG • ‘The Less I Know the Better’ Hera @herabraddd and Cecilia @ceciliaherring looking 🔥 in new editorial for #First Issue of @procrastinatemagazine Photographed by: @maxchanwang 📸 Stylists Nicole Yu (@yuhiunam) Alex Po (@alexpokalam) Em Peng Qin (@emeraldemerald) . Location Stylist Cherry Chang (@cherrychangxx) . Women’s Makeup Artists Snowkei Lan (@snowkeilan) . Hairstylist Yuya Takayama (@yuya_takayama.hair) . #First #FirstGirls #FirstModels #Magazine #Editorial #Beauty
MV ASKS: TELL US ABOUT THE FOUNDATIONS OF FIRST
First was started really by accident, but immediately became a labour of Love. It is like bringing up a small child. There have been teething problems, sleepless nights and the perfunctory tantrums but in the end, I hope we have produced a teenager who we are all proud of, as a family. I can’t wait until she blossoms into the beautiful adult we know she will be!
The vision for the agency was simple. To create an environment where all the models we choose to represent are helped to realise their fullest potential. We use the expression “less is more » a lot.
My hometown is a small Village in North Wales called Llanfairfechan. Unfortunately, as it is a 5-hour drive away I only get back there 3 or 4 times a year! But, when I first moved to London and started work as a booker after university, I knew it was the only career I wanted to develop and I am proud to have established the foundations of First Models and build our community in the centre of London.
MV ASKS: HOW CAN MODELS GET SIGNED WITH FIRST?
A walk in at First is nothing to be nervous about and initially involves a quick chat with one of the agents, followed by measurement taking and headshots, we tend to make the decision as to representation there and then.
My advice to anyone aspiring to be a model would be: Do your research. There are many agencies out there catering to a variety of clients. Just because you aren’t right for one doesn’t mean you won’t be right for the next. When you go into the agency for a meeting put on your best game face.
Personality is becoming more and more of a defining decision maker these days. Work on your social media profile. Platforms like Instagram are becoming increasingly important for a model these days. Clients are often making the decision as to who to work with based on a models Instagram following. Have a clear out and get rid of those pictures that don’t show you in the best light.
My travel essentials. I always have my Advanced Night Repair Serum from Estée Lauder with me to keep my skin fresh and hydrated for my travels. 🌙 #ANR #AdvancedNightRepair #TravelBeautifully #ad @esteelauder
MV ASKS: DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF AGENCIES? WHY IS FIRST A BOUTIQUE?
Boutique versus Large international agency is a question I often get asked and without wanting to sit on the fence, both have their merits and one will work better for some models but not necessarily for the other. The boutique is a name coined for smaller agencies. First falls into this category. We have fewer models, but the chances of getting “lost” in the crowd are substantially reduced. There is often a more one on one atmosphere and the agents generally have more time for the model. That having been said the larger agencies absolutely have their merits and often have the kudos of a well-established name. They have often been around longer and have developed relationships with International clients and represented some fantastic models over the years.
MV ASKS: WHERE IS THE BEST FASHION CAPITAL FOR MODELS TO WORK?
International fashion is fast-paced and is an exciting world to be involved in and it can be very rewarding. But it comes with its trials and tribulations. Extensive travel can be very tiring and quite lonely but take it for what it is and embrace every moment. Like all good things, it won’t last forever.
Each fashion capital has its merits. New York, for example, is often regarded as being a great place to make money. The rates are good and most of the best campaigns are often shot there. Paris is home to a lot of beauty brands and London is known for its ground-breaking fashion and is often a good place to get some fantastic editorial content, this is why we decided to base ourselves in London as we also have our fair share of money clients so it is a wonderful place to be a model.
#FirstWomen ❤️ Catriona @catrionafrean looking 🔥🔥🔥 for @marieclaire_nl // Photographed by @katelijneverbruggen // mua @suzanneverberk // styling @anoukvangriensven ✔️ #FIRST #FirstGirls #FirstWomen #Mainboard #FemaleModel #marieclaire #editorial #Major #Photography #Beauty
MV ASKS: WHAT HAPPENS DURING FASHION WEEK FROM AN AGENCY PERSPECTIVE?
Fashion month is both exhilarating and frustrating all at the same time. Late nights and early starts for Models and agents means that people can become very tired and are often living on the adrenaline of getting an unknown model confirmed for a major designer or a brand-new model they’re first ever fashion show.
Keeping designers, casting directors and models happy at these times can often be quite challenging and as agents, this is when you dig the deepest and pull out all your hidden reserves of patience. At this time models should prepare to be asked to get from one end of London to the next with very little notice.
Late nights and early starts are par for the course, but the thrill and excitement of walking for a designer far outweigh all of this. Models often tell me that this is their most favourite time. They have a love-hate relationship with it, but the LOVE bit being in capitals. I advise models to make sure they have comfortable shoes on and keep some healthy high energy snacks in their bags. Get as much sleep when you can as you never really know when it will happen again.
#ParisFashionWeek Dramane @imnotdramane walking for #AndreaCrews19 @andrea_crews #SS19 🔥🖤 Collabs : @mpbags & @boyhoodofficial Photography : @lmaxtree Music : @sonicornaments Stylist : Benjamin Brouillet from @boyhoodofficial Shoes : @adidasparis EarPods : @beatsbydre Make Up : @yvanerocher Hair : @chiaochenet & @mrsmithhair Press : @stationservice #pfw #ss19 #FromHardwareToSoftware #mrsmithhair #styleandsubstance #FIRST #FIRSTMEN #FIRSTBOYS #FIRSTMODELS #CATWALK
MV ASKS: WHAT IS THE FIRST AND LAST TASK DURING FASHION WEEK FOR AGENCIES?
Fashion week is now 4 times a year in London. 2 men’s shows and 2 women, so it is definitely the main focus for most agencies and models. The first task we undertake is to identify which models will be in town and which designers we want to target for them. The last task is to try and catch up on your sleep!
MV ASKS: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS FOR MODELS?
- Keep your images consistent and interesting.
- Make sure you tag in all the relevant people when posting images from shoots you have done
- Finally, be strategic
MV ASKS: WHAT IS YOUR LIFE MANTRA?
I was told by my father at a very young age that life is not a dress rehearsal, live each day to its fullest and remember its not how many times that you get knocked down that defines you, but how many you get back up again.