For some models the fashion industry has been a harsh and damaging environment, as we frequently hear of traumatic tales where agents/photographers/stylists verbally attack young girls. In conversation with Sophie Burton, it was refreshing to hear that this media-driven view is not the case for most British models, including herself. Sophie enlightened me on the treatment of her six-year modelling career, starting from the age of sixteen to still remaining in the business at twenty-three. She commented that naturally the media will report the worst cases, even though this applies to the minority of girls in the industry. Alongside modelling Sophie has been in full-time education, obtaining a degree in Fashion and Textile Retailing at Manchester University, although she added modelling was the chief reason she became so interested in fashion.
Sophie has been scouted four times in her career, but her first encounter with an agent was under fairly bizarre circumstances. The night before Sophie turned six-teen, her birthday plans consisted of attending an underage event at one of Bath’s local nightclubs. Whilst reminiscing, Sophie added she wore a garish orange and green ensemble that night, laughing at her teen fashion choices. Her outfit however did not prevent her from being approached by a middle-aged woman, offering Sophie a business card. Sophie revealed that in the moment the naughty bottle of vodka she consumed with her friends a few hours before clouded her reaction to what was actually happening, but luckily she kept the card safe and showed her mum the next day. Of course the natural parental instinct is to protect their child so Sophie’s mother passed off the card as fake, although this did plant a seed that her daughter had the potential to become a model.
Soon after, Sophie’s mother spotted a modelling competition displayed in Look magazine and entered Sophie for the chance to be signed to IMG Models, a major London-based agency. Sophie reached the top ten and ventured to London for a day filled with tutorials from how to walk down the catwalk, to how to work with a photographer. Unfortunately, Sophie didn’t win, but she did come in at second place where she was signed to a different agency, Union Models; however, Sophie commented that she was rarely selected to work because of her age. As things were quiet for Sophie she decided to put all her efforts into her education and look to the future of obtaining a career in fashion.
While at Manchester University, Sophie’s modelling career suddenly kick started again, being older and more independent. She offered to assist backstage at an Asian wedding show and before no time she was no longer behind the scenes and up on the runway doing what she does best. It then became time to sign to another agency, J’adore Models, based in Manchester. Sophie explained that every time she would change locations she would often have to change agencies too, as moving back home to Bath has meant that Sophie has been signed to her third agency in Bristol, Ginger-snap Models. She added that it was possible to stay with more than one agency but because they take a thirty percent cut, it then lowers the aspect of it becoming financially beneficial for Sophie, especially regarding travel costs.
It is a tough industry but Sophie exclaims that she loves it. Trying to prise out a dramatic story was impossible, as Sophie has had no bad experiences with modelling, which of course is what we want to hear. From participating in over thirty shoots and walking for around fifteen shows, Sophie has fully experienced what it is like to be a model and is grateful for the opportunities it has given her and the insight into the vast world of fashion.