At a time when transgender models are gaining more recognition than ever, Thailand-based firm Apple Model Management is set to open the world’s first modeling agency for transgender models this summer in Los Angeles.
The agency began representing transgender models in 2014 and its new branch in L.A. will exclusively represent transgender models. Apple has signed six models for the venture so far and is looking to add more.
Angel Qinan, one of Apple’s models, started her modeling career at Apple Model Management in Bangkok, Thailand, and eventually became a member of Apple’s transgender board. She said the agency has been supportive from the beginning.
“I’m excited to be able to express my authentic self and be the best model I can be in Los Angeles,” Qinan said.
Qinan became the first transgender model to walk the runway during Sacramento Fashion week in February. She said the support she received from the fashion community was “inspirational.”
The agency prioritizes equal treatment for transgender models, Cecilio Asuncion, Apple Model Management’s L.A. director, said.
“It’s important for transgender models to be treated equally in the workplace. At Apple Model Agency you are an Apple model first, and transgender second,” Asuncion said.
The move comes during a transformative time for transgender talent in the fashion and beauty community. Just this year, Andreja Pejic was the first-ever transgender model to be profiled in Vogue. Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old transgender activist, landed a deal this year with Johnson and Johnson’s Clean and Clear skin care line. There’s also Brazilian model Lea T, who became the face of Redken in 2014, the first transgender model to become the face of a global cosmetic brand.
But the fashion community can still do more to create supportive spaces for transgender models, Asuncion said. “Fashion is just one instrument” to create change, Asuncion said.