JAG Models

JAG Models

by Melissa Magsaysay

Meet the NY Modeling Agency Doing Away With Divisive Labels

Long before Ashley Graham made Forbes’ Highest-Paid Models of The Year (which is, of course, amazing) or before “plus-size” and “size-inclusive” became commonly used terms, Gary Dakin was forging a new lane in modeling and the fashion world in general by having the vision to see beyond the potentially divisive labels used in fashion and media that can be harmful to women.

A veteran modeling agent, Dakin worked in the plus division of Ford Models for years, eventually meeting his now business partner and also longtime modeling agent, Jaclyn Sarka. Taking their combined decades of experience, they formed JAG models in 2013, the first agency of its kind to eliminate the divisions between size, age and type of women.

No longer are larger or older women relegated to “niche” agencies or secondary categories, but rather, all of the models JAG are held in the same regard, be that size 2 or 22.

Plus Size Designer Fashion JAG Models
Jaclyn Sarka

JAG’s goal is to put girls of all sizes on magazine covers and in advertisements and above all, treat their models like people rather than just a number on a card.

Their approach is the epitome of inclusive and also works to push the industry toward a consistent level of diversity and acceptance.

Here, Dakin and Sarka share their stance on fashion and why being a model today takes much more than just a pretty face.

Plus Size Designer Fashion JAG Models
Gary Dakin

Q & A With Gary & Jaclyn

You have both had a robust career in the modeling and fashion industry, explain briefly how you both got into it and met.

Gary was scouted years ago in the Caribbean and began doing commercial work while living on St. Croix. Many years later, he was the Vice President of client services at Ford and Jaclyn, having started as an intern, was working on another division. He pulled her onto the Curve board, then called plus, and their balance grew the board into the top in the industry.

What was the inspiration to start JAG Models and what sets it apart from other agencies out there?

The inspiration to begin JAG began when they both, having been separated to work on different divisions, realized they were miserable and wanted to work together again. This time they wanted to do it on their own terms. They wanted to rep girls they believed in regardless of size and without some corporate entity only caring about numbers and not caring about the girls. They vowed to open an agency that cares about people and their individual needs.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for models working today?

The biggest challenge for models today is making sure you become a well rounded person, and more than just a model. If this is all you have in your life, you will be sad and disappointed if things don't always go your way. We know girls that work every day but still make the time to volunteer, go to school or advocate on others behalf. Not only does this make them better models but much better people.

What is a common misconception about plus size models and the plus size market?

The biggest misconception about the market is that you can do it if you are just larger than the person next to you. You still need to have the special qualities that separate another beautiful woman from being a model. The energy, skin, presentation, personality and everything else that makes a star be a star needs to be there.

Have you seen the fashion industry shift significantly recently in terms of size and inclusivity?

The industry has shifted in an incredible way in the past few years. There have been stops and starts over the years but this is different, everyone is seeing the change for the good that is happening.

As models have become more personalities, do you feel now is a golden age for modeling and especially those who have a message and cause to address?

There have been MANY golden ages and moments in the world of modeling. From Dovima and the elephants with Avedon, to Twiggy, to the all American Christie Brinkley/Cheryl Tiegs era, to the SUPERS we have seen so many evolutions. This is the latest and by far most vocal and personally, most exciting movement or moment to date. Models are speaking up about their struggles, giving inspiration to others and being more than models, they are being role models.

How do you encourage or discourage your models to utilize social media? Especially when it comes to size and body?

Each model has her own path and some involve social media, others do not. It should happen organically or it looks forced and inauthentic. Nothing will make a model more irrelevant than inauthenticity.

How does a size-inclusive resource like 11 Honoré help fashion move forward?

11 Honoré has such an opportunity to move the needle. Women are desperate for options in the designer space and giving this to them will, we believe, increase the demand. This will make more designers want to be part of the movement as well as the sales. 11 Honoré can change the way women shop.

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