At a time when transgender models are growing in popularity more than ever, Thai company 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 Los Angeles branch will exclusively represent transgender models. Apple has signed six models for the company 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 had been supportive from the start.
“I’m thrilled to be able to express my authentic self and be the best role 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’s received from the fashion community has been “inspiring”.
The agency prioritizes equal treatment for transgender models, said Cecilio Asuncion, LA director of Apple Model Management.
“It is important that transgender role models are treated equally in the workplace. At Apple Model Agency, you are an Apple model first, and transgender second,” Asuncion said.
The move comes at a time of transformation for transgender talent in the fashion and beauty community. This year alone, Andreja Pejic was the very first transgender model to be featured in Vogue. Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old transgender activist, struck a deal this year with Johnson and Johnson’s Clean and Clear skincare 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 cosmetics brand.
But the fashion community can still do more to create supportive spaces for transgender models, Asuncion said. “Fashion is just an instrument” to create change, Asuncion said.