Fashion Industry: W Athletic bucks unhealthy model trend

W Athletic is one of the leading London modeling agencies for healthy models. Recognized for its emphasis on fitness and health, hundreds of dancers, athletes, stuntmen, gymnasts and martial artists help endorse healthy living through realistic photography. What sets W Athletic apart from other sports modeling agencies is their mission statement: " To run an agency that cares equally for its clients as it does for models and other talent. And, to ensure that clients receive a service unparalleled for its honesty, friendliness, humility and satisfaction." In an industry long plagued by accusations of unhealthy lifestyles for models, W Athletic appears to be bucking the trend.

Found in 2007 by Michelle Washington and Gareth Jenkins, W Athletic had models featured on covers of fitness and lifestyle magazines including Runner's World and Men's Health. In terms of marketing, W Athletic is extremely unique and competitive since it does not proactively recruit new talent. Also, hired models must follow rigid criteria that includes following a strict diet, exercising three times a week and having good work ethic. With over 350 active portfolios and a huge network of clients, W Athletic has become a renowned agency in the field of health and fitness. It appears that healthy models have given it a competitive advantage over traditional rivals.

To find models, the company uses Google and word-of-mouth recommendations. Models are encouraged to apply through the company's website. On average, applications total 500-570 each month. W Athletic then filters the applications down to about 50 or 60 models who are invited to audition every six to eight weeks. W Athletic is free to join as a talent figure and model. Once accepted, the aspiring model has exposure to some heavyweights, including Nokia, Microsoft, Reebook and Men's Fitness. A combination of advertising work, ranging from magazine shots and billboards are also used to gain exposure. Models featured on W Athletic, such as Alena Hillson, have height, weight, shoe size and other characteristics below their professional pictures. This allows better promotion and information on each model's well-being to ensure they are representing W Athletic in a positive way.

But everything in the sports industry isn't always picture-perfect. The rise in stock photography has increased the need for better modeling publications and avenues for models. Even private equity heavyweight Carlyle group is in on the act. It purchased stock photography provider, Getty Images, for $3.3 billion earlier in 2012. But the demands on models prior to and during stock photograph sessions, puts increased pressure on models to be and stay thin, often at a cost of overall health.

W Athletic is also focusing on a luxury fitness line for women all over the world. For instance, the Mirabelle ladies dumbbell was crafted from a single piece of solid stainless steel. Featuring the words "Vis et Forma" which, when translated means "Strength and Beauty," comes in a 2000 micro Ruby Red box. There are other products that W Athletic is promoting, which will likely draw in thousands of customers from around the globe.

As TV presenter, W Athletic has served on networks that include ESPN, Fox, and BBC. Furthermore, the agency's talent has appeared on television shows like The Biggest Loser and Gladiators.


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