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TOP MODEL Sara Sampaio

These past few years have really been an eye-opener for the

fashion industry. We realised that we need to listen to people,

their needs and wants.

Sara Sampaio

– Do you think the pandemic has in any way positively impacted the fashion industry?

– It has. The pandemic is really making designers and artists get creative by finding new ways of working. At the same time it also happened that people started to think about producing less waste. In the same way I feel, there are a lot of brands that are really suffering from the pandemic, many of which are going to have to close, with over a year without being able to continue their work. I feel like it is going to be a little polarised.

In terms of the modelling business, on the other side, most models actually loved taking a break for a while. I sure know that I did (laughs). In the first few months we were so happy, because we have never had the opportunity of not working for so long without feeling guilty. Although we were one of the industries that quickly got back to work safely.

– Does the fashion industry have a positive evolution trend or is it only becoming worse than it was before?

– I think we are definitely on the right path. These past few years have really been an eye-opener for the fashion industry. We realised that we need to listen to people, their needs and wants. Last year there was a lot of work done towards it. Diversity is a big part of it, and it is important more than ever for everyone to feel represented. I really see the changes happen and I am really happy and proud of it.The fashion industry is definitely on the right path, although there is still much to be done, and I do not know how long it is going to take for us to evolve completely. Ideally, I would want tomorrow for everything to be amazing, but unfortunately, that is not how life works. Hopefully, more people will start listening and really making efforts for a change.

The fashion industry was never perfect. It is so far from perfect, but everything has its good and bad moments. I’ve been on shows backstage so many times, and while all the girls were changing, there were photographers running around and taking photos. So, unless people come to realize that those inappropriate little moments matter too, we can’t evolve completely. I've also had situations in photoshoots, where the magazine ended up using photos that were not supposed to be used. Even though I had a no-nudity contract, they ended up using frames that were accidental, where you could see my nipples or so. There are things like that that happen a lot and younger models don’t really speak out about them.

At the same time I have to say that I am very happy that I had this opportunity to work so much and achieve everything that I achieved. I will always be thankful for that but I can never ignore the fact that there are a lot of issues that the fashion industry really needs to work on.

– The theme of this issue is Phygital. Long self isolation has sparked a great interest in virtual reality. What do you think about virtual models and virtual fashion shows?

– I have a lot of opinions about that. The one thing that I find interesting is that models get accused of portraying unrealistic ways of what women look like. And then, all of a sudden, people start to like and talk so much in a positive way about these digitally-made out-of-nowhere models, which aren’t only unreal, but even transmit a worse reality and standards.

I also feel that a lot of these digital artists are using real people’s images and body shapes. Even though it can be considered as an art form, because it is truly fascinating what people can draw on their computers nowadays, all that is done without compensating those people, like the way they should. At the end of the day, digital is the future, although in my opinion, people will always want to see how clothes look on real people, on flesh and bones. Personally, I do not understand this trend that well, and I definitely do not think it will come to substitute human models in the long run. There are so many personal things that people cannot achieve with digital models.

– Do you think that the future is virtual or is all this digitalization nothing but a passing trend?

– Even before the pandemic the fashion shows were already so digital. So, it is more to do with the progress and time, rather than the situation we are forced to live in. The shows became accessible to anyone, which is why I feel that digitalization is going to keep happening. Brands have got to be able to reach more people, and if they can achieve the same results by having people simply log into their computer, why fly all these many people to a different city to watch a show live? To them is just going to be just a waste of money. So, I really feel that we are going to see both realities merged together and more phygital shows happening in the future. However, it doesn’t mean that virtual models are going to take people’s jobs away. There are things that real people can bring to a campaign that digital models can't. This personal factor of being human also matters.

– How would you react if you were offered to be a prototype for a virtual model?

– Right now it is not something that I would do. I do not think that people are being compensated enough for these kinds of things, while if I were to be a prototype, I feel like I would be giving a very significant part of who I am.

– You broadcast a very healthy lifestyle in your Instagram. What motivates you not to retreat from this and not to crave fast food and other unhealthy pleasures?

– I do not call it a healthy lifestyle, because what is healthy for me might not be healthy for someone else. What I like to call it is a balanced lifestyle. I don't stop myself from eating anything: I eat pasta, I eat pizza, I eat fast food. I make sure that both my diet and my activity are balanced, but if i feel like eating fast food, I am going to eat it. I am at a point in my life, when I feel like I have found the middle grounds.

– You've struggled with depression for a long time, first of all, thank you for admitting it. We think this is a brave move that helps people with the same problem. Tell us how modeling affects your psychological background. Does work help to distract yourself or, on the contrary, worsens the situation?

– I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for a few years, but right now I am medicated, so I am feeling great. I definitely do not think modelling has particularly helped me with that. Quite the contrary, it creates such big pressure on me and that's obviously hard when you are dealing with so much anxiety. I don't think you can use work as an escape, you have to work on yourself personally instead, so that you are able to get out of it. At the end of the day, that is something that is in your genes and you just have to learn how to deal with it.

– You are very strong in mathematics, but you have chosen to go with your heart and pursue a modeling career. It is nice to see a beautiful and at the same time smart girl in refutation of existing stereotypes. Tell us from your professional experience, have you ever had negative situations associated with the stereotype of the fact that most models are not smart?

- Every profession has its own stereotypes and the modelling one is that we are dumb girls. The one thing that I have seen throughout my career is that models are some of the smartest people that I have met. They take charge of their career and reach financial independence at a very young age. A lot of them are working and studying in school at the same time. People will always have misconceptions about everyone and there is little that can be done about it. At the end of the day, I know who I am and all I can do is be myself. I know I can’t live my life based on how other people see me, people who don't even know me.

– What advice would you give beginner models? Name top-three rules for a successful modeling career.

– First of all, you have got to be nice to everyone, no matter who they are. Secondly, you need to take your career into your hands and listen closely to your team, to the people around you without compromising who you really are. One of the most important things is that you need to understand that you shouldn’t be afraid to say “no”. The third rule is to not get caught up in comparing yourself to others because every career is different, and so is every path. Just because yours is different to your friend’s or the person’s that you look up to, does not stop you from being successful.