Who walks shows and who covers magazines is down to the right face and the right management. Launching a model takes marketing, and today, a social media or online following can catapult a career. Charles Clark-Perry, Supa Model Management’s founder and director, defends the working rights of male models, having founded Supa inspired to close the inequality that appears to favour women in this industry. Interestingly, modelling is one of the few jobs that being a man does not equal earning more money – a feminine face remains a vital symbol of consumption. Whilst gender binary bends and fresh campaigns blossom featuring marginalised faces, who can work is diversifying. But is visibility sufficient activism?
Before founding your own agency in 2013, you spent nine years as a model agent. What made you ‘click’ and decide to found your own business and go entrepreneur?
My circumstances changed quite unexpectedly and I was given the opportunity to open my own agency. I decided to take the chance when I could. I own the agency with my mother, who is also my business partner.
You’re the founder of Supa, London’s only all-male model agency, aiming to bring more opportunities to male models, who sometimes earn only 1/3 of the salary for the same job as their female counterparts. Why do you think female models earn more?
Women have traditionally been the main consumer of luxury goods, couture, makeup, fragrance and jewellery. This creates a demand for faces that sell products, creating international stars – thus bigger fees.
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Distinguishing between a beautiful person and someone who could be a successful model takes talent. What do you look for?
I’m looking for something that as Marie Kondo would say ‘sparks joy’. In all seriousness, I’m into interesting features: ears, different noses, faces, lips that are not your usual beauty type – big lips, big ears that balance the face. So many things. I’m fascinated with people’s faces, to be honest.
As society’s perceptions of gender are changing, so is representation in fashion. Do you represent any non-binary models and is visibility a form of activism?
Supa represents several trans models and the board is growing in visibility and representation across the LGBTQ+ community. Visibility and representation are definitely a form of activism in today’s society.
Male model Casil McArthur, who covered METAL 39 (the Spring/Summer 2018, whose concept was Power to the People), is represented by Supa. How did you end up working together?
We ended up working with Casil through his MA in New York City at Soul Artist Management. He has already worked with huge teams like Collier Schorr, Steven Meisel, etc.
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Trans feminine models, such as Teddy Quinlivan, seem to me to experience much more success and representation than trans male models. Is this a case of the female body still being more marketable than the male, some kind of patriarchal structure? What do you think?
 think it comes down to the consumer and the market places and what faces sell luxury products again.
Relaxing definitions of gender binary are evolving what kinds of models are getting work. How has the industry changed since you began your career?
The industry is ever-evolving and models are growing in diversity. All my models work for lots of different types of clients.
You also represent talents and influencer figures who model but are also musicians or actors – they have interesting stories. For example, Jeremy Meeks, famous for his mugshot, and Matty Ball, a dancer for the Royal Ballet. Do you think the industry change that requires more personality models is due to social media?
Brands have to change themselves in different ways to sell their products now, so working with someone who has access to five hundred thousand to a million followers helps out-reach. With regards to talent, this is not really a new thing; designers have been using actors for years now, it’s just the talents have become more open recently.
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Supa is working to counteract issues with mental health and stigma in the modelling industry, bringing in Milk For Tea to talk to your models and offering counselling. Can you explain to me a bit more about what they do and why you feel it’s important to tackle mental health issues?
We are looking into avenues to provide mental health counselling as we feel this is something that really affects the board. Our models feel more fragile these days.
You said you feel strongly about male models being dropped last minute before a show without compensation. Does this happen more often with male models than women?
I have never had a model not be compensated for being dropped before a show – we always work something out with the designer and castings directors. But what I don’t agree with is how it is handled sometimes backstage. I understand that it is easier to take the whole look out of a show when you don’t have time to rework the look, but it’s the way the edit to model is executed. That is the problem.
I think that conceptions of beauty are changing towards a less proscriptive, androgynous look. What do you think the face of the future looks like?
I foresee the face of future as someone that represents the marginalised people of the world and keeps pushing boundaries.
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