Let's throw it back to the '90s for a second — the thrilling days of yesteryear (pre-Instagram), when street style was in its infancy and models were scouted not for who they already were but who they had the potential to be. It was summertime in the industry and the living was easy. Models were more likely to be discovered in shopping malls than via wilful submissions. And it's how we were blessed with the defining eras that set precedence for editorials and runway etiquette today.
But, it's easy to see why there's no better time than the present to be a model — and that's why LOVE Magazine, the Katie Grand-led biannual publication that often ignites the careers of hopefuls, is holding a model search: the #LOVEME20 competition celebrates 10 years of the magazine and is looking for their next cover star.
In terms of how models are discovered today, the entry rules are pretty standard: post your best Instagram shots, accompanied by the hashtag #LOVEME20, supported by 20 words about yourself and why you deserve to be chosen. The competition is open to women aged between 18 and 23 (sorry, guys) and 20 finalists will be selected to be photographed in New York next month. Sure beats schlepping to the Mall of America in the back of your parent's Buick Roadmaster and standing in day-long lines, doesn't it?
As for what exactly they're looking for, Richard Habberley of DNA Model Management puts it eloquently: "The best models to me are a dichotomy — they are both unique and untouchable, but relatable, all at the same time; totally now, but a shimmer of the past, and a glimpse of the future; the chimera that lives next door to you." But, to keep it real, several of the industry's top models — all of whom are judges in the search — provided Refinery29 with their exclusive take on what the competition means and what a model, today, should stand for. Thanks to the industry's ever-evolving perspective on just what the career of a model looks like, any preconceived notions of said vocation being short-lived, not worth the money, and only for the young and beautiful (and white) are long gone. And the working environment for models is improving by the day.