By Alexandra Mae Jones
TORONTO (CTV Network) — Step aside, supermodels — Supernaturals are here.
That’s the name of a new Indigenous modelling agency with a mission: bringing representation to the fashion world.
Joleen Mitton, one of the co-founders of Supernaturals Modelling, told CTV News she didn’t have that representation when she was younger.
“Growing up, not seeing anyone who looked like me or my mom or my grandmother was really challenging, so we’re hoping to change that,” Mitton said.
The agency — based in B.C. on unceded land — is brand new, but already has more than 10 models, and its long-term goal is to become a serious player in the industry. According to its website, the focus is on “healthy and high-end cultural representation.”
“Especially in the modelling world, Indigenous people aren’t being represented at a very high level, and it’s not a common thing for us yet to be seen as regular people,” one of the co-founders, Patrick Shannon, told CTV News.
The two co-founders have worked together for years. They say there’s a need to showcase Indigenous people and fashion globally. Although there has been more diversity in the fashion world in recent years in terms of ad campaigns and runway shows, they say Indigenous people are often left behind.
“It’s that community support which has always kind of been lacking in this kind of industry, which has traditionally been very hostile.” Shannon said.
Shannon, who comes from Haida Gwaii on the Western coast, is an entrepreneur and film director who also operates InnoNative, a creative studio based out of Haida Gwaii and Vancouver.
Mitton is a former model herself and headed the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. Now her aim is to increase Indigenous representation and change stereotypes.
“[It’s] for representation, for people seeing themselves on billboards, Tim Hortons commercials,” she said.
One of the people looking to step into the spotlight with the help of Supernaturals is Tiana Oostindie, one of the agency’s models.
“I always wanted to get into modelling, but I never really had the confidence and I never really had the pride in my Indigenous background either,” she said.
For aspiring models, the agency is accepting applications from Indigenous models aged 17 and up who reside in Canada. Aside from those stipulations, the agency is open to all applicants “no matter what age, body type, sexual orientation, or nation you come from,” according to their website, where hopefuls can apply.
The agency is already making waves, landing an interview with Vogue Magazine back in May. They’ve also already scored a contract with Roots Canada and are hoping it’s the first step down a runway to success.
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