Wilhelmina is beefing up its men’s division.
The modeling agency on Friday hired Matthew Trust and Gene Kogan from competing agency DNA Models to co-direct its men’s board. They will replace Taylor Hendrick, who had headed the men’s division, but is leaving the company, according to Bill Wackermann, Wilhelmina’s chief executive officer.
Wackermann, a former Condé Nast executive who joined Wilhelmina Modeling Inc. in 2016, has been restructuring the company to expand its focus beyond the runway. That includes the development of Wilhelmina Studio, a creative agency that creates digital content and influencer programs for brands including L’Orèal, Ugg and Disney.
“In my almost four years here, my goal has been to increase the quality of our people,” Wackermann said. “It’s a really competitive industry and we want to have the best and brightest people who are committed to model development and social media.”
He expects the addition of Trust and Kogan to help grow the company’s historically “strong” men’s division. The agency counts models such as Francisco Lachowski, Marlon Teixeira and RJ King on its roster. Wackermann said Trust and Kogan are skilled at not just scouting new talent but working with other agents to identify potential models. He said that while international guys are great, “there’s also great talent right here in New York City.”
And the new hires will also help bolster the men’s participation in Wilhelmina Studio. “They know how to build stars,” he said. In the past, that might have been done mainly through magazine editorial, but in today’s worlds models can also be transformed into social media stars and influencers.
Trust and Kogan said they believe they can “bring significant insight on how to manage talent in such a way that we will continue to be the magnet that draws them. The time we spent at DNA was some of the most formative in our careers and we will always continue to hold the agency and its management in the highest regard.”
Wackermann’s tenure at Wilhelmina has been rocky at times as he makes significant changes to the culture and staff. A $5 million lawsuit against five workers in the women’s image division who walked out en masse in May and joined a competing agency was recently settled, he said, and allows Wilhelmina to retain its non-solicitation clause for its modeling talent.