NEW YORK — A group of private investors has acquired the men’s division of leading modeling agency IMG Models. Led by Kevin Iwashina, a former agent at talent agency CAA, the investors will rename the agency Public Image Worldwide and take with them IMG men’s director Chris Forberg and top booker Kevin Apana—along with a roster of clients that includes top faces like Tyson Ballou, Clint Mauro, Jason Shaw, Aaron Ward, RJ, and Clement Chabernaud.
Terms of the deal were not divulged.
By unloading its men’s business, IMG Models will concentrate its efforts on its women’s board—considered by many to be the best in the business—which includes supermodels Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Carolyn Murphy, Gemma Ward, Daria Werbowy, Alec Wek and Angela Lindvall.
“We are excited to focus on our women’s business while turning over our men’s division to Public Image Worldwide,” said IMG Models’ senior vice-president Ivan Bart. “Chris and Kevin have been valuable members of the IMG Models family and we wish them the best of luck.”
Public Image Worldwide is expected to retain the great majority of the approximately 125 male models currently on the IMG roster, according to Iwashina. Forberg will retain his title of men’s director at the newly named agency, with Apana named deputy director.
“We think there is a great opportunity to change the paradigm in the way models are represented, especially in the men’s arena. We want to represent them in a 360 degree way, where they are multi-dimensional talents with more than just a pretty face,” said Iwashina. “I think that creates more interesting models, which ultimately proves better for our clients.”
Iwashina is a 10-year veteran of CAA, which is considered Hollywood’s most powerful talent agency. He left in May, after representing actors including Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Seigner, as well as directors John Waters, David LaChappelle and Gabriele Muccino. He also helped arrange the financing for the Academy Award-winning film Crash.
Iwashina became interested in IMG Models through a longtime friendship with Forberg, and he brought together the group of about eight individual investors who financed the acquisition.
“We know how to grow talent,” said Iwashina. “We have one of the best client lists in men’s modeling and we want to marry that to my Hollywood perspective and create a new and dynamic dimension to this business.”