Introducing Adelaide’s own Rin Models, Australia’s very first modelling agency to solely represent dark skinned models. Having operated in Adelaide for slightly over two years now, the agency was founded by cousins Juach Deng and Rin Dut. The pair had a shared vision to challenge Eurocentric standards of beauty and to increase diversity in the industry; “the plan was to launch the agency in February 2015, and the name chosen was Précieux Models” says Juach. However, soon after this idea was formed, tragedy struck. Juach sombrely explains to me, “unfortunately, in January of that year, Rin died in a tragic accident.” As a mark of respect for Rin, the name of the agency was changed, and will always hold a special meaning for Juach. “He was my best friend and we had a lot in common, like our dreams and our vision.” Juach hopes that the name of the agency will allow Rin’s story to live on, and inspire others to pursue their own dreams.
The agency was officially launched on the 25th of May 2015 – Rin’s birthday. “Rin Dut was an aspiring fashion designer,” says Juach. “He and I were looking for darker skinned / coloured models to showcase clothing from the label he was developing, but it was difficult to find models of colour.” After identifying this glaring gap in the market, the agency was born. The pair were truly inspired to be the change they wished to see in the industry; “we pursued our dream and made it a reality. The concept was simple: supply the demand. If you want what doesn’t exist, create it.”
It was Rin’s goal to “normalise the inclusion of dark skinned models” and to challenge the biases that are prevalent throughout the industry. “This is still a challenge we face today…we’re not seeing enough variety of skin tones in the industry, and it isn’t a fair representation of the deeply multicultural society that we live in”.
In 2016, Alyssa Cavanagh came on board as the manager and booker of the agency. As Alyssa and Juach explain to me, their momentum is only increasing. “Although we are a new agency, we have attracted the attention of industry leaders including i-D AUNZ, SBS and D’Management”. Rin Models is providing Adelaide, and indeed Australia, with a much-needed point of difference in the media and fashion landscape - and they aren’t stopping any time soon. “We will continue to push the boundaries”, they say with confidence.
Rin Models ensure all models are supported both professionally and personally, ensuring each individual is encouraged and valued within the agency. All models are given the tools to work confidently in the industry, but Juach and Alyssa believe their responsibility is greater than that. “We treat them as family members, we encourage their personal development outside of the modelling world”, they say. “It’s important that they feel valued, safe and are not taken advantage of”. The agency love ‘unusual features’ in their models; “I love standout defining features that make a face interesting, and find myself looking for things like gap teeth, high cheekbones and freckles.”
Hoping to be involved with this year’s Adelaide Fashion Festival, Juach and Alyssa also have their eye on their long-term dreams for the future. “Our long-term goals would be to make Rin Models the go-to agency for dark skinned models in Australia and overseas”, they say, and are looking to expand the business with interstate offices soon.
All images via Rin Models Facebook page.