A Fashion Promotion & Imaging graduate, Alec Mather explored various paths into the industry from menswear styling to events, before finding his niche in model booking. From connecting models with stylists, understanding how images are created through collaboration and progressing to Senior Agent, Alec is in the midst of an exciting career.
About to relocate New York, Alec champions taking your time in pursuing your passion, educating yourself on responsibility and supporting the movement into a more diverse. At this time of change for the industry in regards to model welfare, we sit down the GFW alumni to find out what he thinks about the recent Conde Nast 'Code of Conduct'.
Which university did you attend, and what is the most valuable thing that you learnt there?
I attended the UCA Epsom and studied Fashion Promotion and Imaging; the course covered a broad range of areas within the industry which was what drew me to it. Having four years to explore different pathways and build my knowledge was invaluable.
Graduate Fashion Week provides a platform for emerging fashion graduates to showcase their work regardless of the specific discipline. Which area of the industry have you chosen to pursue, and what informed this choice?
When I graduated, my plan was to go into menswear styling but I soon realised my strengths lay elsewhere and started to pursue a career as a model agent. I had completed several internships in differing fields, from PR & Events to Styling Assistance, so I felt everything I had learnt combined was best suited to an agency.
Tell us a bit more about your career journey since showing at Graduate Fashion Week. How have you found life in the industry?
I stayed working in retail while I waited for an opportunity to come up at an agency I knew I wanted to work for. I interviewed for Viva in December 2013 and was offered the job the following February after working a few trial days. I started as the booking assistant, which involved organising travel and accommodation for the models, general office management and a little bit of accounting.
After my first year I started to book small money jobs and editorials, applying all the information I’d soaked up in my previous 12 months – I began to understand more about image usage and the management of the girls. Over the past four years I’ve progressed to a senior agent and I’m now responsible for over 25 girls on our board; I make sure they are meeting the right brands, photographers and stylists, that they are building a strong book of editorial and that they’re happy and healthy.
Do you explore any political, social or historical notions through your work? If so, what messages do you hope to convey?
Model welfare is something that is very important to me and to Viva, it’s reassuring to see influential companies such as LVMH, Kering and Conde Nast finally develop ‘codes of conduct’ to protect models. We all have a responsibility to make sure that everyone is working within a safe and positive environment, I hope that the conversation, and people’s passion for the cause, continues.
I’m also happy to see more ethnic diversity on the runway, even since I started 4 years ago so much has changed, and I feel this will only improve.
Where are you hoping to be in five years time?
I plan on moving to NY in the next few months, which will be an exciting new chapter in my career, in 5 years' time it would be great to be head of a department at an internationally renowned industry.
Many say that the industry is undergoing a huge change, with sustainability, diversity and responsibility becoming huge themes. Do you have any opinions on these movements?
As well as some of the points I touched on above, I think the high-street fashion industry needs to address the impact it’s having on the environment. I find it hard to comprehend that companies within a supposedly forward thinking industry still waste so much product, use mainly unsustainable energy sources and harmful materials and dyes. People need to educate themselves on where they buy their clothes, the information is there!
Lastly, to any students that are reading this in admiration of your career-what advice would you give to the students hoping to showcase this year?
I would say take your time, having 18 months between graduating and starting at Viva was the best thing I could have done.