Brazilian-born stylist and journalist Thais Mendes talks to ASOS editor at large Danielle Radojcin about how she’s shaking up the modelling scene in her homeland with Squad Agency, her street-casting agency that’s based in São Paulo, but which she co-manages from London.
Living and working in London for 13 years, Thais wanted to take the growing concept that she saw in the UK of casting charismatic, talented, attractive but non-traditional models, and introduce it to Brazil, where the industry is still dominated by a narrow, sometimes surgically enhanced, conventionally European aesthetic. Thais started Squad Agency in November 2015 – with her friend and associate Patricia Veneziano – out of a desire to reflect the real, 21st-century diversity of Brazil and highlight the talents of young creative people, with the aim of casting them for brands, fashion campaigns and social media activations.
Thais’ mission seems to be paying off, as she has now cast models for campaigns by Dove, adidas, Pop magazine, i-D and Converse. This is even more impressive given that Squad Agency has yet to launch its own website (due in early 2017), but instead finds new faces on Instagram, including artists, skaters, DJs and singers, all of whom have their own unique style, personality and attitude, as well as good looks and sizeable social media followings.
In addition to scouting more models, Thais is hoping to develop Squad Agency into Squad Network, a creative collective that develops collaborations, projects and brand partnerships in all areas of fashion and advertising.
Here’s Thais’ big idea.