Talking fashion, diversity and more with modelling agency Feat Artists

feat. Teams for Ekaya with Nikhil D Styling & artists Alisha & Sonam featuring in the campaign.  (styled by @nikhildx, in frame @alliestop & @sonam_hw

Model and talent agency Feat. Artists have been in the game for a short amount of time but already beguiled industry professionals. 

Founded by Creative Consultant Nikhil D. and former IMG model Smita Lasrado in July 2018, the agency has gone from strength to strength, boasting campaigns for big names and magazine editorials for the likes of Vogue, GQ, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, and more.

Having featured in GQ’s list of the most influential Indians, 2019, the agency can only grow bigger. Feat. Artists, as a whole, exudes a laconic vibe and you can’t get any cooler or aesthetically pleasing than their Instagram feed.

We caught up with the pioneering agency to discuss diversity and representation, beauty standards, and how to create positive change within the modelling industry.

MESA: What has been challenging thus far since launching?

We have been very fortunate to be able to work with the best very early on. We’re only two years old and we’ve worked with the best within India as well as internationally. I’d say the challenges we faced earlier on were clients sceptical about working with faces that were so different from what they had seen in the market. We still face some struggle with booking darker models on commercial jobs but this is changing and changing quickly for the better!

MESA: When was Feat Artists established?

Feat. was established in July 2018 by two friends; Creative Consultant Nikhil D. and Former-IMG model Smita Lasrado as an endeavour to represent features and talents from across the Indian subcontinent.

MESA: Who do you represent and how do you scout them?

We represent creative personalities who are models, photographers, visual artists, hair & makeup artists, stylists and more. We love to street cast nationwide, it’s exciting to find someone with immense potential and see them befuddled as to why we think they’re unique! Apart from that, we’re always looking for new faces on Instagram, sometimes the right people find us and the other times word of mouth surprises us.

Verve Magazine – Photographed by Sushant Chhabria

MESA: Which publications/ companies do you regularly work with?

We work with many Indian editorials like Vogue India, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Platform Mag along with brands such as Ekaya, Pero, motherland, Ritu Kumar, Shriya Som, Sunita Shekhawat and more

MESA: What countries do your clients mostly come from?

A majority of our clientele is based in India but we work with clients based in France, America and the UK amongst other countries.

MESA: Why did you set up the agency?

We met in Paris in 2014 when Smita used to work there and spoke about the lack of representation as young Indian talents and the best way to overcome that was to create a platform that would harbour just that. For all the young amazing cool kids in India of all genders, all ethnicities, all body types and age.

MESA: Are there many other competitors?

Of course, there are many, the industry is as vast as it is close-knit. We believe in the healthy competition so we recognise our competitors; however, that doesn’t drown or redirect our focus from feat. and our vision for the company.

feat. Nandini for Supriya Lele (@nandoz.z at @featartists)

MESA: Do you think beauty standards are changing?

Yes, beauty standards are evolving and definitions are changing for good, especially with what’s been happening this year. We think it’s pushing the change to a more open space and we’re excited to see where that goes.

MESA: As an agency that openly represents transgender clients within their own category – was this an important decision for you?

Yes, for us it’s important for them to have their own category because that’s who they identify as – and we want to acknowledge it. People’s mindset and perceptions are more receptive than they ever were and acceptance will be the first step to creating a stage for people that hail from all walks of life. We’d like to shift the focus to the unique work and creativity our talents exude.

feat. Priya J for All Saints new campaign ‘Instant Summer’ (@_priyajain_ for @allsaints)

MESA: Do you think the fashion and beauty industries are inclusive?

We want to stay away from tokenism; inclusivity and diversity isn’t something we talk about anymore because its time for different sizes and faces being used to be the norm, not the exception. But we are hopeful that people continue to break stereotypes and think of actual representation as a base for all their work.

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