My Friend Ned is the first South African modeling agency to create a casting list for nonbinary models.
Launched in 2015, the agency focuses on "the beautifully unusual, and enigmatic characters" and recently added "nonbinary" as a third gender category to their casting list.
Creative Director Fani Segerman described the importance of nonbinary representation with I-D Vice: "There's nothing groundbreaking about a campaign starring a female model who's a little androgynous, or an editorial with a straight guy wearing a skirt. Book a real genderqueer person. Use what's real."
Unlike magazines like Vogue appropriating gender-fluidity, or brands like Selfridges using the agender identity to sell clothing, My Friend Ned seems to have their heart in the right place when it comes to representing the LGBTQIA+ community. Segerman told YOU DO YOU, “Being non-binary is far deeper than just an aesthetic. It is not as simple as a straight line between the two mainstream binaries but is dynamic and undefined. It’s not a look but an identity.”
Segerman concludes, "It's our responsibility to break down these binaries and create these spaces. It's the people on the inside of any industry that can effect these changes."
While the agency has many areas to grow in terms of diversity, their commitment to normalizing nonbinary identities sets a good example for modeling agencies who lag behind in displaying any type of diversity.
And there's good news for our South Africans readers: Fani also shared that they do the majority of their model scouting on Instagram: "Some of the most incredible models are very low-key and only have around 200 or so followers."
As Qwear's Founding Editor, Sonny’s work centers around envisioning a future in which the clothing people wear does not dictate their chances of survival. Sonny was awarded 2015 dapperQ of the Year and was the first trans blogger to be sponsored by Topman. In March 2016, Sonny spoke at South by South West's first official queer fashion panel.