Call it the British Raj hangover or just public demand, Indian fashion industry’s fixation with ‘gori’ models is only getting stronger. That foreign models, mostly from East European countries, are available and affordable, isn’t helping the case of Indian models either.
A model poses on bike.
In the recently held audition for an upcoming fashion week, out of the 11 shortlisted models, six were foreigners. An Indian model who could not make it to the final round, said, on condition of anonymity, “We are facing racism
in our own country. White skin has almost become a prerequisite. Some of the selected models do not even match the minimum height requirement of 5’8”.
Model Aasttha Ssidana, 23, who also auditioned, said, “This is the situation everywhere, be it print shoots, TV commercials or ramp shows
. I was dropped from three-four shoots recently as all the clients wanted white models.”
At the recently-held auto-expo in Greater Noida, over 70 out of 100 models were non-Indians. “We had a tough time meeting the demand for foreign models. We had to call off their other shoots and even flew in foreign models from Mumbai,” says Shikhar Sidharth of Vogati Talents.
Some, however, say it’s not skin colour but lack of professionalism of desi models that works against them.
“I can’t deny that clients are hung-up on fair skin. But foreign models are also way more trained. In fact clients ask for ‘Indian looking’ foreign models because they are more professional,” says Pranav Awasthi of Glitz Modelling.
Kapil Singh of Western Model Management says, “It’s tough to deal with the tantrums of Indian models. And they have so many inhibitions.”
“Foreign models charge Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000 for a day’s shoot, which is half of what an established Indian model charges,” adds Awasthi. FDCI President Sunil Sethi, however, says, “We in FDCI don’t have any such fixation with foreign models. Sometimes in prêt, international models are preferred only if they wear the outfits or walk better than Indian models. This fixation is not with the fashion fraternity, but may be with the viewers.”