The ModelSmith Miami Swim Week
by Lauren Smith, Owner of The ModelSmith
2018 was the second year my boutique agency, The ModelSmith, stepped off the plane from Los Angeles to Miami, with a group of new faces ready to see what happens during the week when models from across the country pack up their bikinis and head to Miami.
Last year we went as four people, and booked a couple of the smaller shows, but we had an incredible time. A couple of those girls have since picked up for the acting world, and this year it was seven new faces, some even new to us, who — new as they may be — weren’t ready to miss the opportunity to strut a Swim Week runway.
we weren’t ready to miss the opportunity to strut
I have a new plus-sized model leaving her recent law degree and job in the UK to come to LA and pursue her passion for modeling this summer. When I told her we would talk after Miami, she said she’d love to come to Miami and that she’d meet me there.
That kind of drive is where the competition in Miami STARTS. Last year we went in pretty blind. As an agent who has been in the fashion and agency world for a while now, I know what it takes in LA, and I know what it takes in Miami, but it changes. One of the first shows we saw this year was the bikini.com with NewMARK Models show.
That kind of drive is where the competition in Miami STARTS
Jules [Newmark] is someone who I’ve worked with, and I’ve always admired the way she works. Her girls aren’t all 5’10 either, so they put on their own show, and it was so busy you couldn’t move. That was awesome.”
The ModelSmith — hence its name, and its play on the old job of blacksmith, and their ability to take metal and mold and shape it — focuses on the development of New Faces, then taking the talents and genuine interests of those models and talent to pair them with jobs that are a real fit for all.
We take the genuine interests of models to pair them with jobs that are a real fit
I don’t have the girls who all have upwards of quarter-of-a million Instagram followers. Most of my girls are not 5’10”. But like, the talent I bring on, I wasn’t willing to let that hold us back.
Most of my girls are not 5’10”
I have plus-sized girls. ‘Plus,’ or ‘curve,’ has finally taken off. We’ve seen it on runways, on the pages of SI — we saw it win SI this year.
SI was probably one of the highlights of this year, while also a contributor to the craziness. One of my plus girls made it to the second round of SI. It’s been a goal of hers for years to meet MJ Day, and she did. I have absolutely no doubt she’ll be a household name of that magazine in short years to come.”
One of my plus girls made it to the second round of SI
Another thing that has been extremely important to me personally has been taking on clients who are people I find inspiring, committed, and just someone you’d want to hang out with! Who wants to work this kind of gig with someone who can’t laugh? Not me.
I personally love looking at a model and wanting to know more about them. A lot of these talents represent multiple ethnicities from all over the world, so if I have the opportunity to learn about that and see them represent it, I absolutely want to. And I think more people in the fashion industry are starting to, as well.
I’m from Detroit, Michigan. We didn’t get a whole lot of culture there, so watching models from countries I know nothing about show up for their families, and give people where they’re from a possible confidence to go out there and do something, is incredible to me.
It’s harder as a small agency to have the brand contacts, and “ins” it takes to get your girls up there. It takes time, and it is nothing short of a daily hustle. I applaud the girls who fly in without an agency or a booking and just hope to cast. The larger castings help that.
We got into an Art Hearts Fashion casting (thank you to Art Hearts Fashion for the open bar!), and while it was a long day and only a few of my models were invited, they got out there and at 5’6” or 5’11, or a plus size 16, gave it their all in a way that makes it all worth it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t make these girls walk, and walk again.
One of our favorite quotes this year was from one of the designers kind of running the casting. He was seeing the last of the girls walk a few more times to see if they could get in there (and they did).
I had a more petite model with me who has a fierce walk and nothing short of a swim body. He said, “We’ll have to put you in 6-inch heels, can you do that?”
Without missing a beat, she told him “I can run in 7,” and went out in the grass to show him her walk. I loved it. She was laughing on the way back because she knew how well she did.
We’ll have to put you in 6-inch heels, can you do that? She replied: “I can run in 7.”
This year we had creative director Luca Burnett of Yantra Beauty with us because, well, Miami humidity. It was fun being able to create content and experience that together.
Next year we want to kick this up big time and really work as a team. Teaming up with people who work like you, or understand your vision and believe in it, is so helpful. To start out with any talent, brand, company and grow together — you just never know what will happen for either, and you have a better chance of doing it together.
This year the stakes were higher than ever. I think a lot of the bookings were direct, there were less castings, and the shows were full of past-walk favorites.
Reasonably so, the KAOHS show may have been my favorite that I got to see. They used the majority of the models they did last year, but I’m also a huge music fan, and they nailed the music too. Everything from show soundtrack, the venue with the runway on water, the delicate but playfully sexy suits, shut it down. It was jaw-dropping.
the KAOHS show may have been my favorite
There are also a lot of pre-booked Instagram favorites at these bigger shows, which you’ll hear a lot of people talk about. People want to see familiar faces.
I also loved Maaji, hosted by Paraiso: 5’10” bodies straight off of island surfboards! Then drummers? And then a few dancers joined by more and more dancers? It was an exhilarating feeling to end the week on.
Any model who didn’t book can watch the shows and appreciate the girls that do. I tell my girls to look for what they were ‘missing,’ but also look for what they have and don’t see. Going to learn that for your first year alone is worth it.
You can find The Model Smith and its ever-growing roster at www.TheModelSmith.com, and follow them @TheModelSmith. You can learn more about beauty and haircare brand YANTRA @YantraBeauty, www.yantrabeauty.com.