Is it Really Worth It?
Natalia Zurowski, Features Columnist
A look at how agencies and models in China are putting their reputations on the line in order to generate a profit
As a model, I have gone to China (Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen) on many occasions and witnessed agencies employing unfair tactics in order to better promote their models for jobs. The lowering of rates has been a large and ongoing problem, but what I find equally frustrating is agencies making fake magazine covers for their models. Agents are actually taking photos from models' portfolios and slapping the renowned 'Vogue' logo onto it. As ridiculous as it may sound, it works.
In China, many clients don't know the difference between a real vs. fake Vogue cover, but they do know the prestige that goes with having one. They assume that the model with the (unbeknownst to them) fake Vogue cover must be good and will book her for the job.
Any model who has worked in China knows the work there is rough; however, in comparison to Europe, your average model can earn a very good amount of money. In turn, models have taken note of this strategy (for lack of a better word) and have begun making fake covers for themselves in order to get ahead of the competition. And not just in China.
With today's generation being very well acquainted with technology and programs like Photoshop, anyone can replicate a Vogue cover with relative ease. I've seen it firsthand on several occassions. The scary part? Some are very convincing. Others are clearly fake, but it's those covers that do look real that are most frustrating.
At a casting in Shenzhen about two years ago, I was looking at a girl's portfolio and saw what was, without question, a fake. As I sat there looking at it, I couldn't help but wonder "Did her agency do it? Or did she do it herself?" To be fair, if an agency produces a fake cover for one of their models, it's hard to blame the model. Although the models could take a stand, many are away on contract. In light of this, the last thing they want to do is argue with their agency, which could potentially put them at risk of being sent home. In this kind of a situation the agency is at fault and should be held accountable for their actions, not the model. But what I find troublesome is models deliberately making bogus covers themselves.
I highly encourage and advise models to not engage in such practices. It's just not worth it. Not only is it dishonest, but it's forgery, fraud, copyright infringement, and 100% illegal. I understand that due to competition increasing over the years, getting jobs has become more difficult. Despite this, please maintain a level of respect not just for the magazines, but for yourself. Otherwise publications like Vogue will likely start taking action against such crimes and they would have every right to do so. Especially because it is the reputation and prestige of the magazine that is being compromised.
Legalities aside, it can get you in serious trouble that could potentially get you blacklisted. Anyone who has been around long enough can easily spot a fake. The fashion industry may seem large, but word of mouth -- whether it be good or bad -- spreads fast. One wrong move and you can kiss your modelling career goodbye.
Getting the opportunity to shoot any cover, whether it be Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire etc., is a great accomplishment; one that models strive very hard to attain and that only a select few get to shoot. The tear sheets from these publications are extremely beneficial and important to a model's career. Good tear sheets create a stronger book that can lead to more jobs, more money, and more opportunities. If a model has a cover of Vogue, it should be because they earned it, not because of Photoshop.
Natalia Zurowski is a Chantale Nadeau model who just completed her B.A. from Western University.
She is currently in Hong Kong with Model Genesis