The future of fashion is now.
As the industry opens its doors to new talent, the demand for a more representative industry is finally being heard. It’s been a long time coming: conversation about fashion’s lack has been abuzz and the youngest generation is demanding a change to the “you can’t sit with us” mentality of the industry’s past. Young movers and shakers are reshaping fashion’s fabric, amplifying underrepresented voices and promoting diverse talent. V sits down with three upcoming models making their mark on the fashion world, transforming its infamous exclusivity into celebratory inclusivity.
NAME: Raven Shields-Wallace
Where are you from? Would you say your upbringing shaped your view on fashion and modeling?
I was born in Staten Island and raised in ATL.
Definitely. When I was younger growing up in NY, I remember my mom would surprise us with new outfits for school and new sneakers on holidays like Valentine’s Day. I loved expressing myself through clothes.
Did you have early aspirations for a career in fashion?
I’ve always wanted to be in fashion and I’ve always planned to have a career in it.
How did you get your start with modeling? Where were you scouted? What was that moment like for you?
I started off in Atlanta shooting with friends and upcoming designers. They pushed me to get in front of the camera because I was very shy even though I wanted to work in fashion. I was scouted while at a party and she had seen me out before but I wasn’t really ready until then. I was very happy and excited I felt aligned.
What was your family’s reaction to pursuing modeling? Were they initially supportive?
They were happy for me and very supportive.
As a model of color in the industry what has your experience been? Do you feel like there has been any change/growth in the past few years?
It’s been great but I do experience those moments of feeling like a token or I’m the only person of color. There’s been a ton of growth in a short amount of time. The most important thing is everyone here in NY is extremely respectful. I think people are more sensitive in a good way and appreciative of our differences working toward a similar goal.
Ideally what does the future of fashion look like to you?
Sustainable, slow and more personal. I highly support reselling, thrifting and shopping consignment/vintage. Also I’d like to see more designers be more conscious in the materials they use.
What was your journey to being signed to the agency you are with currently?
In February of 2019 I signed with my current mother agent St. Claire Models. After that, I spent the first seven months in Atlanta building the mental resilience I would need for NY Fashion week in August. After a successful fashion week, my sister persuaded me to stay in NY with her and I got a regular job and just kept working on myself until the following February Kianna Alexander from APM reached out to me via Instagram and set up a meeting.
Although you are a fresh face, is there any advice you could offer fellow models just starting out?
Be your best self. I mean that very literally. Simplify your routine and be consistent with your eating and exercising. Natural is better inside and outside your body. Practice makes perfect don’t think you’re just going to walk on set and be perfect the first time. Practice your faces and your walk! Be confident in the qualities that make you unique.
In terms of fashion, who are some of your early influences?
Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Vogue, Seventeen Mag, Cosmopolitan, Coco Chanel, Azzedine Alaia, Louis Vuitton and Donna Karen.
What has been your favorite moment in your career thus far?
When I wore that stunning Giambattista Valli dress for WSJ magazine, my first beauty and hair covers for WWD/ Beauty Inc. Magazine, and definitely walking the runway as an ice cream cone for Pyer Moss’ Paris couture debut.
How would you describe your style? Do you have any wardrobe staples you couldn’t live without?
Effortless and inventive. I can be like a chameleon, I’m a tomboy one day and a girly girl the next. I always need a trench of some sort, my vintage brooks brothers white button down, Bstroy socks and my Santangelo necklace.
What’s the best advice you’ve received since you entered the industry? And who gave it to you?
“Don’t start working and just become a part of the rat race, remember where you are”- My friend Gordo.
Outside of modeling, what are some things that you are passionate about?
I love food and I enjoy cooking and I’m currently learning about gardening.
Every day I want to learn new things. I used to spend all my time reading and lately I’ve been researching a bunch of new books to tap into. I also spend a lot of time designing and learning how to sew and make clothes. A passion of mine is sustainability and I’m figuring out how I can create a sustainable life and clothing line.