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In Conversation With: Morgane Gielen

In Conversation With: Morgane Gielen

Morgane Gielen is a visionary photographer and the driving force behind the groundbreaking project, No Babes Agency. With a keen eye for inclusivity and a passion for activism, Morgane embarked on a journey to challenge the norms of the fashion industry. Her journey began with a simple photo project on Instagram, which blossomed into a powerful movement aimed at redefining beauty standards and providing a platform for underrepresented individuals. As both a photographer and a founder, Morgane’s dedication to promoting diversity and empowerment shines through in every aspect of No Babes Agency. Her innovative approach and commitment continue to inspire positive change within the fashion world and beyond.

 

HOW DID YOU START NO BABES AGENCY?

MG No Babes originated as a photo project on Instagram, which later evolved into a photo book and then a segment on “Iedereen Beroemd”, a Belgian TV programme. Through photographing so many individuals, I got the idea to start a modeling agency to provide a platform for these people. I noticed they weren’t represented in the traditional pool of models my clients were selecting from. I wanted to make a difference as a form of activism.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT WHEN CHOOSING THE RIGHT MODELS?

MG People who are professional, willing to work hard, and truly have the ambition to succeed. The fashion world is still tough, especially for those who don’t fit the ideal image, so earning a spot is a real fight. Therefore, drive, perseverance, and resilience are crucial. Of course, we also consider their photogenic qualities, but not in the traditional sense of height, measurements, or age. Because we embrace everyone!

 

WHAT DOES INCLUSIVITY MEAN TO YOU? AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S SO IMPORTANT?

MG Inclusivity to me means representing everyone you see walking down the street in the media. It’s strange to consciously choose to exclude certain groups from the media landscape, thereby marginalizing them. Often, people fear what they don’t know, and I try to remove that fear or reduce the barrier.

 

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU NOTICED IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY SINCE FOUNDING NO BABES? HOW DO YOU THINK THIS WILL CONTINUE TO EVOLVE?

MG Belgium is still in its infancy regarding this matter. Many clients still say “It’s not my target audience” instead of realizing the potential reach and customers they could gain by involving diverse groups. Plus-size representation is still dismal, as is representation of models with physical or mental differences. It is improving, though – they’re realizing it’s not just a ‘trend’ and won’t go away, so we hope the market becomes more open to it. Other countries are ahead in this regard, so it’s time for us to follow.

 

HOW CAN PEOPLE DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN A TOKENISTIC CAMPAIGN AND A BRAND THAT IS GENUINELY INCLUSIVE?

MG It’s important to ask questions when seeing a commercial or campaign. Does the brand make a one-time attempt to be ‘inclusive’ or do they consistently incorporate inclusivity into all their campaigns? That’s when you know if they are genuinely inclusive.

 

HOW DO YOU TRY TO GUIDE CERTAIN BRANDS?

MG We also offer consultancy packages for brands. This can range from guiding them comprehensively in devising and executing their campaigns to simply encouraging clients to cast more inclusively.

 

BESIDES THE AGENCY, THERE’S ALSO THE NO BABES VZW. WHAT DOES THIS ORGANIZATION DO EXACTLY?

MG No Babes VZW organizes exhibitions, networking events, projects in collaboration with other organizations (such as the “Liefdevolle Lijven” expo currently touring Flanders), photoshoots, educational workshops, and lectures.

 

WHAT MILESTONE HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT FOR NO BABES SO FAR?

MG Our biggest milestones definitely were releasing the first No Babes photo book in collaboration with Borgerhoff & Lamberigts and the segment on “Iedereen Beroemd” called #nofilter.

 

HOW WILL WE HEAR FROM YOU AND NO BABES IN THE FUTURE?

MG Hopefully, our models will soon be spotted in many national and international campaigns. I also have several TV programs lined up in 2024 where I always mention No Babes, of course.

 

 

 

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