7 London Modelling Agencies You Need to Know

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What do Jamie Dornan, Cara Delevingne, and Cameron Diaz have in common? Other than being well-known actors today, they all started their careers as models. 

It’s easy to see why acting skills are in great demand in the modelling world. What photographer doesn’t want to work with someone who can take direction and is able to tell a story with just a look? If you’ve been blessed with great cheekbones as well as acting chops, then lucky you. Modelling can be lucrative, and your first step should be finding a great agent to help get you the best possible jobs. 

London has an impressive selection of agencies to choose from, but first do your research. Does the agency have a good reputation? What’s their online presence like? Do they represent the kind of model you want to be and, crucially, do they do the kind of work you want to do? There’s no point signing with a big agency with a reputation for cutting-edge editorial material if your looks are more suited to commercial work. As with acting, honesty is the best policy: You may want to be the next Gigi Hadid or Adwoa Aboah, but you might make a much better parts model.

A few words of advice: No reputable agency will ask you for anything upfront, financial or otherwise. If you’re asked to pay for professional photos, then take your ridiculously good-looking little bod right out of the door, pronto—they don’t deserve your Blue Steel. 

Luckily, Backstage has done some of the hard work for you. Here’s our list of the London modelling agencies that should be on your radar.

London modeling agencies

1. IMG Models 


The Breakdown: IMG is a big, well-established international agency that can help you with the whole arc of your career, from mentorship programmes where industry veterans share their experiences with new talent to helping their models to cross over into new areas like acting.

Simply put, IMG is the biggest name in the modelling world. The agency has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, and Sydney—as well as London, of course. The firm says it challenges its models but also acts like a family behind the scenes. An example of this is their mentorship programme, Model Prep, where industry professionals and veteran models share their experiences with emerging talent. IMG also offers an educational speaker series offering advice on subjects like mental health, nutrition, and even self-defence. 

According to Forbes magazine, IMG represented four of the top five highest-earning models in the world in 2018. The agency is home to big names like Karlie Kloss, Chrissy Teigen, Alek Wek, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and it has a reputation for building lucrative editorial careers that cross over from the modelling world into other spheres.

IMG president Ivan Bart says that to cross over successfully, “you have to have a vision for it,” and plenty of IMG talents have proved they do. Delevingne is just one of the models who has moved into acting post-catwalk, and it’s clearly a route the agency is familiar with. 

Bart also advises models to pay close attention to Instagram: “Your social media page is the magazine of your life, so how you represent yourself matters.” The media-savvy agency has an Instagram scouting account (@weloveyourgenes), which is a potential way to grab their attention.

IMG attempts to push the envelope when it comes to diversity, pushing for different beauty standards and recently launching Brawn, a division for plus-size male models. 

2. Elite London 


The Breakdown: A big-name global agency with a track record that backs its claim of being “the world’s leading talent network.” Home of original supermodels, the agency is famous for its worldwide talent-finding contests. They also place emphasis on innovation and nontraditional approaches.

Originating in Paris in 1972, Elite is one of the most famous agencies in the world and has the client list to prove it. Big names such as Kendall Jenner, Adut Akech, and Adriana Lima bless their current mainboard, and they also have a history of nurturing and enabling the big-name careers of models like Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Claudia Schiffer. Yes, Elite is the home of the original supermodel, so the agents there clearly know what they’re doing! 

When it comes to finding new talent, Elite puts its money where its mouth is, organising the huge Elite Model Look contest, a global search for the next supermodel. The competition has been quite successful over the past 30 years, having discovered Gisele Bundchen, Lara Stone, and Alessandra Ambrosio, to name a few. 

Their mainboard showcases lots of high-end editorial work and fashion magazine covers—good to consider when you’re thinking about the kind of modelling work you’d like to do. They’ve certainly worked with top-end brands, including Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Margaret Howell.

The agency claims it “embraces innovative types of management” and wants to “elevate our talents beyond the traditional modelling career.” Elite has its own in-house PR and production services and a talent list that includes non-modelling talent like Courtney Love, Ella Eyre, and Jack Guinness. 

When it comes to meeting the agency, their advice is simple: stay away from the makeup and let them see the real you. “If your drive and passion are as unique as your look, we’ll help you reach your full potential,” the agency says on its submission form

3. Models 1 

Models 1

The Breakdown: A British agency with global clout and an emphasis on welfare and nurturing long-term, sustainable careers. They have a reputation for high-end work and a legendary alumni list that includes supermodels Naomi Campbell and Twiggy.

Established in London in 1968, Models 1 began with just three models on its books but is now one of the world’s most respected agencies, with an HQ slap-bang in the centre of Covent Garden. 

They represent notable names such as Yasmin and Amber Le Bon, Olivia Palermo, Sophie Dahl, and Erin O’Connor, but they also rep talent like actor Luke Treadaway, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and actress Emilia Fox. As well as flying the British modelling flag, they also seem to be doing their bit for older models, representing original supermodel Twiggy, grey-haired goddess Daphne Selfe, and Naomi Campbell. (If they can keep her happy, they must be good!)

Models 1 does editorial and high-end commercial work, booking models for brands like Calvin Klein, Gap, and Ralph Lauren. It’s known for nurturing careers and being in it for the long term, insisting they won’t let models in their care “run before they can walk.” The agency stresses the welfare of its models, insisting it puts the “care, safety, and happiness of models above all else.” Before you think they’re the Mother Teresa of the agency world, they claim to do this because it’s in “the absolute interests of Models 1.”

Aspiring models can apply for representation on the agency’s site

4. Storm Model Management

Storm Model Management

The Breakdown: A versatile modelling agency that takes a holistic approach to its clients’ careers, Storm also advises its models on branding and intellectual property. They push at the definition of modelling with a roster that includes social influencers, writers, and actors. Storm has a legendary reputation for spotting talent. Could you be next?

Established in London in 1987 by Sarah Doukas, with the backing of Richard Branson, the Chelsea-based Storm’s track record for finding new talent is hard to beat. Its agents discovered Kate Moss (in an airport), Jourdan Dunn (in Primark), and Lily Cole (on the street).

Despite its success, Storm hasn’t rested on its laurels. It continues to evolve by offering its clients varied in-house services such as branding, licensing, and artist management. The firm has created new departments like Storm Vision, which manages the careers of social influencers. If they see potential, they sign people in all sorts of professions, including bloggers, vloggers, actors, writers, and presenters, giving them a wide-ranging perspective and expertise.   

Storm says it wants its models to get involved in the business side of their careers, encouraging them to keep an eye on the ownership of their intellectual property and brand.   

Doukas told Vogue magazine: “You have to be a strong and inspiring influence as well as a brilliant business agent. I try to employ really caring people and not just people who are good at being agents.” 

You can test their niceness at one of their open castings, which occur Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at their Chelsea office.

5. Wilhelmina Models

Wilhemina Models

The Breakdown: A big-name modelling agency set up by a model for models. The agency believes “flawed beauty is often the most interesting,” and its roster includes children and plus-size models. 

Founded in 1967 by the late Dutch supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper, Wilhelmina is now a well-established name on the global agency scene. Alongside its London base, the firm has a network of American offices, which can bring in exciting work opportunities for an aspiring Kate Moss or Winnie Harlow. Their corporate client list reflects this, with notable names including MAC, L’Oréal, and Donna Karan.

Following its founder’s lead, the agency has a progressive approach that emphasises the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. They offer full-spectrum management for women, men, full-figured bodies, fitness models, and teens and child models, as well as entertainers and musicians. They’re also keen to stress that every three minutes, a Wilhelmina model is booked somewhere around the world.  

Big names Wilhelmina has represented include Anjelica Huston, Beverly Johnson, Isabella Rossellini, and Gia Carangi. It reps models including Karolína Kurková, Makala Johnson, and Roosmarijn de Kok. Its talent-management operation boasts names like Nicki Minaj, Shawn Mendes, and Niall Horan.  

You can see the lucrative results of its talent division’s work on billboards and ad campaigns all over the world. Wilhelmina is a big name and is looking to get bigger still by moving further into digital content creation. It’s ambitious for its business, and that means it needs new talent—like you! “Want to become a model with Wilhelmina?” asks the agency. “The quickest and easiest way is to send your images to us” via this page.

6. Premier Model Management 

Premier Model Management

The Breakdown: With clients like Stella McCartney and Prada, this is a high-end agency with a reputation for edgy editorial and breakout catwalk stars. They have a strong and interesting male board too, as well as an artist-management division with major names from the world of music.

Founded by Carole White and her brother Chris Owen in 1981, Premier Model Management is one of the world’s top modelling agencies. Premier models can be seen on catwalks and billboards globally: Names like Achenrin, Evie Harris, Liza P, and Ruinan have caught the eye of top clients like Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, and JW Anderson. 

As with many agencies, the Premier women’s division drives the agency’s definition of itself. It’s become synonymous with edgy editorial, breakout catwalk stars, and trendsetting stances. Top names repped by Premier include Luna Bijl, Malaika Firth, Lara Mullen, Marjan Jonkman, Lily Stewart, Phillipa Hemphrey, Luma Grothe, and Hailey Clauson, who regularly feature in Vogue and Dazed, as well as campaigns for Prada, Chloe, Armani, JW Anderson, Coach, and Paul Smith.

The mainboard of the men’s department is also thriving, with top male models like Fernando Lindez, Jun Young Hwang, Filip Hrivnak, Ty Ogunkoya, and Nils Butler doing well under Premier’s guidance. Like many forward-thinking agencies, Premier has an artist management department featuring names such as Kelis, Bar Refaeli, and Banks. 

If you are a woman at least 5 feet 8 inches tall or a man at least 6 feet tall, contact Premier via this application form.

7. Select Model Management  

Select Model Management

The Breakdown: This is a British agency with a global network but a boutique philosophy. Its client list is top-notch, as is its female talent, though it is particularly noted for its male board.

Founded in 1977, Select is an agency with international ambitions. It is known for its British board and its talent for scouting male models (especially off the street). In 2019, Select merged with MP Management to become the fifth-largest global model and talent agency network.

Top names Select has on its books include David Gandy, Oliver Cheshire, Ben Allen, Jacey Elthalion, Danny Beauchamp, Finn Hayton, Sacha M’Baye, Paul Sculfor, and O’Shea Robertson. Jamie Dornan started at Select, so they clearly know how to make a career happen. Plus, the women’s board isn’t too shabby, with Select having a hand in the careers of Sienna Miller, Agyness Deyn, Sam Rollinson, Stella Tennant, Primrose Archer, Jess Hart, and Eliza Cummings, among others.

Their client list is top-notch, including prestige British brands like Burberry and Paul Smith as well as global names like Valentino and Hugo Boss. Select says it offers one-on-one care for its models and markets itself as a boutique-style agency. If that sounds like your kind of thing, then pop over to apply

Read related articles from our US edition (most of the advice will be as relevant in the UK as it is in New York or L.A.)

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