Lumpen is a little different from your average modeling agency. Named after the term for a social outcast, Lumpen’s aim is to show the fringes of Russian society, with an online cast that features intentionally unglamorous faces from across Russia. Models include a tattooed man with multiple piercings and a swollen closed eye, or a woman with a blank, glassy stare and a disheveled, frizzy hairstyle. It’s not necessarily the genetic lottery winners who usually go out to sell toothpaste and trench coats, but it turns out that the street aesthetic has struck a chord in the fashion industry: models of the age of one and a half The Lumpen agency has already walked for major fashion houses and new up-and-coming brands, including Balenciaga, Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy, as well as Kenzo.
Founded by Moscow cool girl Avdotja Alexandrova, Lumpen was originally created as a visual database of quirky local models for her fellow filmmakers, photographers and designers. It was not a business motivated by the interest of making money. “Everyone here [in Russia] works through an agency, then sends her daughters to the West, then only receives 10%,” says Alexandrova. ” I do not care. Money doesn’t interest me, nor does business in this plane. Alexandrova’s passion is to spot atypical faces, but not just any. Lumpen focuses on tracking down those living in Russia. “I like to observe Russian faces,” says Alexandrova. “I’ve loved this aesthetic basically forever. Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to see these kind of kids [cast]from photoshoots to movies and pretty much everywhere.
Lumpen’s casting methods are well-timed, syncing perfectly with the fashion movement to cast interesting civilians alongside the catwalks. Labels like Hood By Air and Eckhaus Latta are known for featuring non-models, and bigger houses have recently joined the fray, with Gucci including artist Petra Collins in its lineup. “I think everyone is tired of an ideal type,” Alexandrova says of the phenomenon. “People want to see individuality.” Nevertheless, people also want to see diversity on the catwalk, an issue that arose during Demna Gvasalia’s debut at Balenciaga, and it’s fair to say that Alexandrova’s interpretation of diversity is largely the product of his upbringing: a reaction to a society that enforces a strict set of physical ideals and rules about how people look, something like neat, simple, neat, no piercings. Not, so to speak, a Lumpen model. “There were many times when people were like, ‘Why do you have monsters in your agency?’ “Explains Alexandrova. “But I think they are insanely beautiful.” And she’s just getting started.