Modelling is more than a pretty face

The life of a supermodel is a dream for many.

We see them on prestigious runways, strutting for the biggest designer names in the fashion industry. They are featured in multimillion-rand campaigns and are constantly on magazine covers .

But have you ever wondered how they got their foot in the door?

Was it a stroke of luck that saw them being whisked off to a life of fame and fortune?

We have all heard the Cinderella story of how some of the biggest supermodels in the world were discovered while waiting for the bus or minding their own business.

In fact, rumour has it that Alek Wek, who has been a muse for some of the biggest fashion designers in the world - including Karl Lagerfeld - was discovered by an agent while gathering firewood in Sudan.

How does the world of model scouting work exactly?

One successful model who can relate to being scouted is Dave Kabamba, the Congolese-born model who resides in Johannesburg.

At only 22 years old, Kabamba has found immense success in the fashion industry, having ramp walked for big industry names such as House of Ole, Roman Handt, Ephymol, and Cult Collective, featured in magazines such as Gashette magazine, Style Joburg, and Voila and has bagged local and international campaigns such as Truworths, Spree, American sportswear brand Russel Athletics and Swedish giants H&M.

But Kabamba says he was initially picked out randomly at Ghandi Square in Johannesburg, when he was just 16 years old while boarding a bus.

Kgomotso Seboko, a well-known talent scout, fashion show producer and owner of KS Modelling Management, bumped into the young Kabamba and tried to convince him to get into the modelling industry.

The two exchanged numbers, and at first Kabamba says he was very sceptical.

"I remember making a fist and holding it while walking away just in case this guy turned around and wanted to jump me or something!" he says laughing.

"But I got in touch with him, thencompleted Grade 12 before signing with his agency.

"I officially made my industry debut in 2012 when I walked for a Paledi Segapo fashion show at SA Fashion Week and the rest, as they say, is history."

Although he has found success, Kabamba warns young ambitious models that it is not as easy as it looks.

"I was lucky enough to be scouted, but generally the industry tends to be very tough to infiltrate. Designers and agents always have a particular look in mind or market they are focused on, so rejection is the name of the game in the modelling world. You are constantly told that you are too this or not enough of that. So although it may seem glamorous to many, in reality it takes a lot of hard work."

Kabamba's advice to aspiring models is to know the market they would be best suited for.

"Most people think that being pretty or handsome and having a great body is all that it takes. But models are not pretty, they are unique. So it's important to know which market would best appreciate your unique beauty."

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.