Indian Models Place in the Industry

  • Amy Bebbington

Indian models are becoming extremely successful in the fashion industry in recent years showing their attitude to a diversity in a positive light. The modelling industry has been criticised for adopting a racist character in the past yet many Indian female models are proving to change this perception dramatically.

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A Positive Step towards a Diverse Industry

It is a correct step in the right direction to witness a multicultural industry and encouraging for aspiring Indian models who wish to enter the high fashion or commercial niche. The more diverse range of models witnessed on the catwalk or fronting campaigns will inspire and influence decisions of models from Mumbai, Mangalore, Delhi and Bangalore.

Bollywood has certainly celebrated Indian beauty putting actresses such as Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra and Dayana Erappa in the spotlight. It is a great way for young Bollywood actresses to also secure modelling gigs and Hollywood roles. Priyanka Chopra’s ticket into the film industry was from winning a beauty pageant becoming Miss World in 2000.


Neelam Gill Shares Her Story

Neelam Gill talks about her experiences of working in the fashion industry and her opinion of how the profession is evolving. Modelling for the Burberry campaign launched her career and allowed for her to feel accepted in the fashion world.

Unfortunately, previously Neelam has been a victim to racism online and at castings yet overall her experience of the industry has been positive. She explains how one bad comment or remark can outweigh all the lovely comments especially when aimed at her race, which should not be brought into the equation.

Be Aware of Social Media

It is a problem that social media brings where individuals believe that they have the right to state their opinion via a tweet yet it is hurtful and unnecessary the majority of the time. Social media can create blurred relationships where individuals feel as though they know the person due to a series of images and have a right to comment. However, in reality they are strangers.

Neelam describes: “The comments I’ve received have been 90 per cent good, but one bad remark can ruin your day. I don’t care if people call me ugly but when it is about your skin colour that is unacceptable. I can’t believe some messages aren’t taken down from news sites.”

Indian Models to Follow on Instagram

Of course, hit follow on Neelam Gill’s profile – like right now! – but let’s take a look at other top models Instagram accounts that have caught our attention. The hottest Indian models who have us scrolling through their grid daily.

Pooja Moor

A series of effortless pictures from model shoots to friends faces.She also likes to throw in an inspirational quote now and again.

Bhumika Arora

An Indian fashion model who has graced the cover of ELLE, Grazia and Harpers Bazaar. She is very proud of her culture and will never go topless or wear sheer clothing on the runway. Hoping to inspire other Indian girls with her presence in the industry, she has noticed a dramatic change in diversity she started.

Diva Dhawan

A mix of holiday adventures, fitness inspiration and modelling shoots, this beauties Instagram account is certainly one to follow. She hit fame with the Garnier ad and has worked in the industry ever since.

Angela Jonsson

She got her big break after she won the Kingfisher Calendar Model Hunt in 2011. Since, Angela Jonsson she has appeared on the cover of Vogue India, Elle Magazine and Darling Magazine.

Ashika Pratt

Her flawless selfies, enviable beach shots and workouts make Ashika Pratt one to watch.

Rasika Navare

Rasika Navare stepped into the international spotlight with her campaign for Smashbox Worldwide Cosmetics, which was a huge success and led to many more roles with top brands. She lives in New York yet travels the world with her modelling career.

Nidhi Sunil

You won’t want to miss a new upload on Nidhi Sunil’s stunning account. You’ll find a mix of her modelling work, incredible yoga moves and travels.

Ujjwala Raut

She has been given the title of India’s most successful overseas model with her work CV that includes the likes of Yves St Laurent, Gucci and Valentino; to name a few. Ujjwala Raut has certainly earned her title by working with a long list of top designers.

Merrilyn Boro

Her huge following is for a reason. Merrilyn Boro’s Instagram account is stylish, chic and unique. She is definitely ruling the Insta world now as one of the hottest Indian models of the moment.

Erika Packard

Spotted whilst shopping for groceries in a Bandra market with her mother, Erika Packard’s initial reaction was a definite no to the thought of a modelling career. Lucky for us she changed her mind as her images are just incredible and she became one of the hottest models from India. She comes from a family with a background in the spotlight as her father was Bollywood’s favourite white rogue in the 90s.

Padma Lakshmi

Author, actress, model, television host and executive producer – is there anything Padma Lakshmi can’t do.

She Is the First Indian Face of Burberry

That being said Neelam admits that the fashion industry is significantly improving and is proud of her achievements to date, which include walking in a Burberry fashion show and featuring in the campaign that was shot by Mario Testino; successfully becoming the first Indian face of Burberry!

Both Neelam and Burberry are proud of this fact and hope to inspire Indian women. It will encourage other designers to hire a beautiful Indian model to front their brand and walk in their fashion show. Young girls need to witness models that they identify with giving confidence and self assurance.

Since, due to the power of Christopher Bailey, her career has spiralled with her landing various opportunities, which include walking in Kanye West’s Adidas show, featuring in British Vogue and appeared on the cover of Elle India. The modelling world in now her oyster as well as other Indian beauties who wish to strive to become a successful model.

Tokenism Has To Stop

Unfortunately, a lot of brands use models to cover their backs. The beauty speaks of her frustration with the industry. She feels the ratio of non-white girls to white girls is low. However, she openly acknowledges that the fashion world is adapting to change yet challenges the industry to expand their open-mindedness further to avoid being labelled as a token gesture. Her break into the industry does show that Indian women are hired to model fashion. The more that hopefuls try the more opportunities will arise!

Neelam shares her thoughts on the industry: “The industry is improving – but there is a long way to go. There needs to be a major change in model casting. A lot of shows cast non-white models as a token thing. I have never seen a show with more than one black, Asian or Indian girl, which is frustrating.”

“If Christopher Bailey hadn’t believed in me I don’t think I’d be where I am now. It takes someone with his power to make mainstream fashion accept you. I don’t even think I would be cast in India.”

Advice for Young Models

The face of L’Oreal Paris encourages for models to be true to themselves. Never allow yourself to feel insecure if you’re the only woman of colour in the room. Being different is what makes you beautiful.

Be proud of the colour of your skin. Allow for role models like Neelam Gill to inspire you to follow your dreams despite discriminations. The aim is for a diverse industry without token gestures; a reality that can only come to fruition with confident individuals who are ready to change the fashion landscape.

The Lowdown

  • The fashion industry is welcoming diversity with more female models of Indian descent gracing the runway.
  • Neelam Gill launched her fashion career by featuring in a Burberry campaign shot by Mario Testino.
  • Young aspiring talent will feel inspired by witnessing international models that they can identify with.
  • There remains a long journey ahead for the industry to become fully diverse.
  • Neelam hopes that more non-white models are cast to avoid becoming a token gesture.
  • Young women need to be true to themselves and proud of the colour of their skin.

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