A new platform aims to evolve the modeling business away from selfies and overly filtered imagery for aspiring models and artists.
The Feels app, launched earlier this year in Europe where the company’s based, today became available in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. An expansion into China is set for September.
With Feels, users can take pictures of themselves as long as they follow the rules: no selfies, no filters and no bad lighting. Approved images are then uploaded and are scouted by brands or agencies. It’s free for users and brands to use. There’s also the ability for brands and retailers to do market research by seeing how users are styling their products and can track in real-time who is wearing their product.
“Most brands do street castings or have a booker in-house now, so having a platform for them to do it is really great,” said Feels founder Dawson King. “We spoke to seven different modeling agencies and they told us to get lost. When we talked to Storm [Model Management], they said ‘We can see this being disruptive but we also see the way things are moving [in the industry].’”
London-based Storm partnered with Feels for its launch in Europe as well as the latest expansion that includes the U.S.
King hopes to generate revenue with the app via the purchase of premium accounts that give users priority in the line of photos waiting for approval as well as having their photos receive featured status, which looks similar to how a sponsored post might appear in a feed.
Roughly 70 percent of photos submitted each day were being turned down when the app initially launched in Europe. That’s down to 43 percent as users learn how to use it.
“It’s improving,” King said. “Because of the Instagram generation, people just think it’s a selfie app, but we’re not a selfie app. It’s about getting people to understand that’s not what the brands want.”
The app has generated more than 98,000 installations in the nine weeks since its initial debut in Europe. Some 14 models, YouTube vloggers and other influencers have been signed to Storm or other brands.
“The app is proving to be a great way for the fashion industry to connect with the public, as well as giving talent the opportunity to showcase themselves….We’re involved because it’s a great scouting tool and allows for a greater synergy between the wider fashion community and the fashion industry,” said Storm director Simon Chambers.
Feels also launched in the U.S. with Manchester, England-based e-tailer Missguided, which has been aiming to grow its business Stateside.
Missguided will have the exclusive for the first three weeks of the app’s U.S. launch and then nine other brands are set to join after that.
King, a serial entrepreneur who has mainly started businesses in the health-care space and none of them an app, originally intended to launch Feels as an application for the music industry. The partnerships in fashion came together more quickly.
Music, however, is still in the cards and is expected to roll out Sept. 24 with a contract with a global music studio.
Once that launches, artists could theoretically get signed to labels in much the same way aspiring models are looking to get signed to agencies or work directly with brands in this initial iteration of the app.