Fashion modelling is pretty much the exact type of modelling you think of when you hear the word model. It comprises both runway modelling and catalogue or print modelling. In nutshell, it’s modelling that — you guessed it — promotes fashion of any kind.
As you can imagine, there is a huge demand for good fashion models as there are so many different companies and brands that produce products that would fall into the fashion niche. And the good news is that this isn’t going to change anytime soon. In fact, fashion modelling is one of the busiest niches of modelling and it’s growing at an exponential rate each and every year. After all, clothes will always be in fashion, right? Okay, that’s the one pun in this guide out of the way so let’s crack on.
If you have ever dreamed about becoming a model and don’t know where to start, then fashion modelling is your best option. This is the niche that the vast majority of would-be models first break into unless they are interested in something niche such as hand modelling or even fitness modelling. It is also the niche with the most briefs which means more opportunities for aspiring models that want to land their first modelling gig.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss everything there is to know about working as a fashion model. From what it takes to become one to the kind of preparation needed before working on a shoot — this is everything you need to know about fashion modelling.
What is a fashion model?
A fashion model is a model that clients use to promote anything that could be described as fashion. This means clothing, accessories, and shoes — if it’s been designed to be worn anywhere on your body or to accessorise your outfit, then a fashion model will promote it. For this reason, a client will look at a fashion model’s overall appearance and not just a specific aspect of their appearance as they would with a hand model or makeup model.
Here at Hunter, we firmly believe that anyone no matter their size, shape, age, or cultural background can be a model. Thankfully, the industry has changed a lot in recent years and more and more fashion houses and big brands are starting to embrace diversity. This means that we’re seeing more briefs for plus-sized models and even older male models than ever before which is amazing.
So yes, anyone can be a fashion model. That said, there are far more briefs for fashion models that fall within certain height and weight ranges. This is because fashion houses will create outfits in general easy-to-adjust sizes and look for models that will fit the clothes as opposed to making clothes that fit the models. This is particularly true for runway models as the fast-paced nature of runway shows means that alterations to outfits should be kept to a minimum so models can jump from one look to another as quickly as possible.
With this in mind, the general requirements for fashion models are as follows:
Female models – 5’8” or taller weighing around 59kg or less
Male models – 6’ or taller weighing around 77kg or less
But don’t for a second think that those are hard and fast rules. If you want to work exclusively on the runway, then yes, you’ll find it quite difficult to land modelling gigs if you’re outside of those ranges unless you are specifically working as a plus sized model. However, for general fashion modelling, while those ranges are ideal, you can still land print work if you’re shorter or heavier than the requirements. Just bear in mind that as there will be fewer assignments without those basic requirements, you may have longer breaks between modelling jobs.
Is fashion modelling easy?
Show us a fashion model who says their work is easy and we’ll take a bite out of the Hunter Talent office hat — well we would if we had one, but you get the point. There are no types of modelling that are easy. Even hand modelling which ‘only’ uses your hand is super tiring and takes a lot of effort. To put it another way, if fashion modelling was easy, we’d all be doing it, right?
No, fashion modelling is not easy, but like many jobs it can be incredibly rewarding and lots of fun too.
A fashion modelling assignment could be anything from a couple of hours for a quick shoot or a full day of changing outfits in a hot studio. Then you have to take into account any travel to and from the shoot which, if you’re hired for a major campaign or event could involve train journeys or even flights. And that’s before we even consider the hard graft you’ll need to put into honing your modelling skills and keeping on top of industry trends and so on.
But perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of fashion modelling is the whole rejection thing. Now, if you’re new to the industry this is something that you really need to know — fashion models face rejection on a very regular basis. This makes sense when you think about it as there are often hundreds of models under consideration for an assignment and they can’t all land the gig. So if you’re going to be a fashion model, you’ll need to learn to be patient and take rejection on the chin because it’s really not personal.
What skills do fashion models need?
Now as you can see, fashion modelling is no easy task. It takes a lot of hard work and no small amount of patience, but what are the actual skills required to succeed in the industry?
Well, we’re glad you asked because contrary to popular belief, fashion modelling is a skilled job that requires as much talent as it does hard graft. Luckily for you, the majority of the skills required to be a fashion model are learnable skills. This is why models go to model school.
Here are just a few of the most notable skills all successful models will have in common.
They know how to walk
Okay, you may laugh because we all know how to walk, right? But if you think you’re walking down the runway the same way you walk to the shops, then you’re in for a surprise. Fashion models, even those who work mostly on print campaigns, must know how to walk like a model. We’re talking about that runway strut that you associate with supermodels. It’s surprisingly difficult to do the first time around as you may feel a little silly, but trust us this is an absolute basic requirement.
If you’re not sure how to get started, just remember that YouTube is your friend. Make sure to practise in front of a full length mirror if possible or set up your smartphone and record your walk. You’ll need to nail this down before you can take on any live modelling assignments for events or shows.
They know how to pose
Yep, just as important as walking is posing. Scratch that — posing is more important than walking. A photographer can only do so much with the camera, you’ll need to help them out by dropping into various poses to give them options when trying to capture that perfect shot.
This is where doing some research into successful fashion models comes in really handy. Check out the way they hold their body position for a great shot or the way they look at the camera. Look at the various ways they smile depending on the scene or the theme of the shoot and try to think how you would pose in the same setting.
As with walking, it’s vital that you practise this and set a few poses in stone so that you can drop into them immediately without even thinking. You may even want to give your poses names so that it’s easier for you to remember them according to the setting or need. We’d avoid calling any of them ‘Blue Steel’ though, well at least not out loud 🙂
Fashion models don’t just need to be patient when waiting on modelling opportunities to come along. They also need to be patient on the job too. There will be times when the photographer needs the lighting to be just right or the client wants a different approach in the shots — these are the times when a fashion model is often left waiting around for things to be prepped just right. Then again they may simply have to shoot and reshoot again and again until everything is just right. A fashion model who cannot be patient and accept that this is part of the job will have a very tough time indeed.
They’re good with people
Fashion models work with people all the time. From photographers to fashion designers, hair and makeup artists to marketing execs from big brands — a fashion model needs to be good at working with people and talking to them. We say this to all of our talents (actors included), clients and photographers will remember a fashion model who is pleasant, easy to talk to, and easy to work with. And more often than not, they’ll come back to those models if they fit with another campaign or assignment.
Then there’s also the fact that some fashion models may be hired to work at events and exhibitions. These models may need to speak with people including potential customers or clients of the brand they represent so being good with people is a huge plus. This is why outgoing people are often suited to this type of modelling.
They understand industry trends
A good fashion model will be pretty much on point when it comes to their own sense of style and what’s hot and what’s not. Now, this won’t land you an assignment, but it does help when you’re on set if you understand the things that the photographer and perhaps the client are talking about fashion-wise. Besides, it’s good to take a strong interest in the industry you work in.
Fashion model work and assignments
It’s no surprise that the majority of fashion modelling work involves fashion. What new models are surprised by though is where their modelling can take them and the enormous range of niches within the fashion industry umbrella. You’ve every accessory under the sun along with any and we mean any type of clothing you can think of. And that’s before we even get started on location shoots that could take you quite literally anywhere.
As a new fashion model starting out, you’ll likely spend a great deal of time working on print assignments for catalogues or advertisements. These types of assignments usually take no longer than a day of shooting and while tiring, can be pretty straightforward.
Runway modelling is another ball game. It’s fast-paced and requires a lot of energy. Live modelling assignments are usually just for a half day or full day, but at times they can run for longer if it’s fashion week for example.
Those who are new to fashion modelling are also often surprised at the fact that they may also be asked to do commercial modelling. This would typically be a film shoot for a TV commercial and could take anything from a day to a full week of shooting. Even if you don’t want to be an actor, it pays to be open to these opportunities as it’s a great chance to get your face out there particularly if it’s a nationwide ad campaign for a major brand.
One thing we will say about fashion modelling is that no two days are remotely the same which makes it quite an exciting and interesting career.
How much do fashion models get paid?
This is a very open-ended question because there are so many variables that it’s nearly impossible to accurately predict just how much a fashion model will get paid. For example, a major brand may pay a lot more for a model for a national print campaign than a smaller company would for a few catalogue images. In other words, it all depends on the brief and the client.
However, that said, you can rest assured that if you are working regularly, you will make a good living. Most models can expect to make between $350 to $600 for a session and more once they start making a name for themselves. On average, a successful model can make around $80,000 per year. But like we said, there are a lot of factors that could have both a positive and negative impact on that figure chief of which is the effort that you yourself put into your career.
If you work hard and remember to keep honing those skills, you’ll earn a reputation as a good fashion model. And that’s the key to earning the big bucks. Get to the point where clients ask for you by name and your rates could jump into the thousands of dollars for a shoot.
A fashion model’s tips for career success
If fashion modelling is something that you are serious about pursuing then it’s best to start off on the right foot. And what better way than by following in the footsteps of those that have been there and done that. In our many years in the business, the Hunter Talent team has worked with many successful fashion models and these are their tips for career success.
Recognise your strengths and weaknesses
Some people are great at walking and some are amazing at striking poses for the camera. As an aspiring fashion model, it’s a good idea to not only understand your strengths but also your weaknesses. Like we mentioned earlier, fashion modelling is a learning game where you constantly need to improve your skills. And once you can recognise that there are some skills that need improving over others, you can focus more on them. You’d be surprised how easy it is to hyperfocus on what you’re already good at and ignore your weaknesses — a habit that could have a detrimental effect on your long-term career.+
Wear sun protection
Yep, this is a simple one and something that we all should be doing anyway but we’ll just remind you that you need to protect your skin from the sun at all times. It may be tempting to sunbathe in an attempt to get a healthy glow, but trust us, it’s not worth it. A client is only interested in your natural look and that means taking good care of your skin.
Keep beauty treatments to a minimum
Beauty treatments can be great but only if they are occasional. You see the fact is that when you work in fashion modelling, you’ll have a lot of makeup on when working. In fact, you may even have your makeup done more than once for a shoot which isn’t the greatest for your skin. This is why it’s a good idea to give your skin a break when you’re not working. And that means minimal makeup and beauty treatments. You want your skin to be in peak condition at all times and letting it breathe is the best way to keep it free from zits and pimples.
There’s a common misconception that fashion models need to live on an incredibly strict diet. But that’s not true at all. Models need to eat healthy and workout just like everyone else does. The difference between a model and someone who works in a regular job is that a model will need to limit their intake of junk food. No doughnuts for breakfast or fries for lunch. It’s all healthy and nutritional eating that eliminates the need for dieting to maintain your shape. But eating this way is not just about staying in shape, it’s also about maintaining your energy levels. Remember we did say that fashion modelling takes a lot of hard work, right?
Start networking as soon as possible
Networking is an extremely important aspect of fashion modelling and modelling in general that many new models fail to take advantage of. While the days of ‘it’s who you know’ are long gone, there is still a lot to be said for a client, photographer, or fashion designer knowing you by name.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to start networking as soon as you possibly can. Get to know anyone that works in the industry and let your friends and family know about your new career as you never know who they may introduce you to. This is where your people skills will come in handy but just be careful that you don’t become that annoying person who is always asking for business cards and phone numbers!
How to get started as a fashion model
Find an agency
This is the first step that you need to take as an aspiring fashion model — find an agency. But before you jump the gun and call the first one that you come across, you can’t just find any agency, it needs to be the right agency.
What do we mean by the right agency? Well, it has to be one with a solid reputation for helping the models on its books achieve success. Not only that but it will have a track record of working with great clients. We’re talking about household names that the agency can show you details of having worked with before. This proves that it’s a trusted agency and that it only works with the best. There’s also the added bonus that clients will often return to the same agency time and time again to hire models.
We’d love to tell you to forget the rest and sign with Hunter Talent, but the truth is that some models and agencies are not a good fit for each other. That’s why it pays to do your research and check out a few. We’re pretty sure you’ll give us a call too and who knows we might be the perfect fit.
We’ll just give you a word of warning — an agency that tries to sign you without meeting you in person or at least over a video call is not the right agency. They are most likely after your membership fees and probably won’t do a whole lot to promote you.
Create a portfolio
Once you have an agency sorted, it’s time to create your fashion modelling portfolio. This is a collection of images that a casting director, photographer, or client will look at to see if you’ve got the right look for their project. As you can imagine, this means that your portfolio is an incredibly important tool in your modelling career.
The reason we suggest doing this after you find an agency is because the agency will be able to tell you exactly what type of images their clients expect to see in a portfolio. They will also have a recommendation for a local photographer who has portfolio experience. It’s crucial that you have your portfolio shot by a professional as the clients will expect to see what you look like in a studio setting. And believe it or not, it’s also important that they have portfolio experience too. This means that they will be able to shoot the right images highlighting your best features in precisely the way a client will expect.
So no self portraits or photos taken by a friend with a DSLR. You need a professional portfolio because, let’s face it, this is your profession, right?
Take care of your body
This is good common sense but we’ll remind you of it again — take good care of your body. Your body and its health is extremely important for your fashion modelling career so it makes sense to take good care of it. That means healthy eating, plenty of sleep, and getting enough exercise.
There’s also the fact that a client will look at your portfolio and expect to see an accurate representation of what you look like so that means that you’ll want to maintain your physique and skin health. When it comes to weight, this works both ways. Any major changes in weight either gains or losses will mean that you need to update your portfolio and those sessions can be expensive.
Work on those modelling skills
Our last tip for getting started is to start working on those modelling skills and to keep it up for as long as you can. It’s a good idea to set yourself a daily practice routine that you can fit into your schedule. For example, work on poses and your walk for 15-20 minutes each and every morning. Once you get used to it, this will become just another thing that you do in the morning but it will have an incredibly positive impact on your fashion modelling career.
How to prepare for a fashion model shoot
So you’ve landed your first fashion modelling assignment and the excitement is palpable. We’re guessing that the nerves are there too, but don’t worry, nerves are perfectly natural. Here are a few things that you can do to ease those nerves and make sure that your first fashion modelling assignment gets off to a good start.
First and foremost, you’ll want to limit your activity in the days leading up to the job to stuff that won’t get you injured. If the modelling job is on Tuesday and you have plans to go rock climbing on Sunday, we’d recommend that you give the rock climbing a miss. This is your first assignment and the last thing you want is to be struggling with a stretched muscle or something similar. Trust us, there will be plenty of rocks to climb, but you’ll only ever have one chance at your first modelling assignment.
Avoid experimenting with food in the days leading up to your shoot. Sure, you can stick to the food you always eat, but if a new taco truck arrives in your neighbourhood the night before the shoot, we’d avoid trying it out. Nothing worse than gas or an upset stomach when a photographer is asking you to pose just so for the 30th time.
Drop the caffeine — wait, what??? Hear us out. If you like your coffee and you’re feeling nervous you know what’s going to happen. Three or four cups before a shoot could leave you feeling all antsy which won’t help with your posing at all. If anything it will make those nerves even worse too so we’d advise you to skip the coffee or have a decaf.
The last tip we have is probably the most important and that’s to know the details of your shoot. We’ve lost count of the times we’ve had to calm panicked first-timers who have underestimated the time it takes to get to a shoot and are worried that they will be late. Don’t be like that. When your agency tells you the details of your shoot, figure out your route and make a plan. Whatever time you think you need to leave, move it twenty minutes earlier just in case. No one will be annoyed if you show up early but if you show up late… well, let’s just say that time is money.
Become a Fashion Model
And that’s about as much as we can tell you about working as a fashion model. Just make sure that you take good care of your body and keep honing your modelling skills.
Work hard and we see no reason why you can’t become a success in the fashion modelling industry. Just remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming a top fashion model requires patience, but if you have the right agency by your side, you’re off to a great start.
If you’re interested in becoming a fashion model and you’re looking for professional representation, then why not give us a shout here at Hunter Talent.
We’d be more than happy to have a chat with you to see if we’re a good fit for each other. Even if you opt to sign with another agency, we genuinely hope that the advice in this guide helps you along your way.
Want to break into the world of modelling and acting?
Our agency is dedicated to helping aspiring models and actors achieve their dreams. We have a team of experienced industry professionals who will guide you every step of the way, from helping you create a portfolio to finding the right auditions and casting opportunities. With us, you’ll have access to a wide network of industry contacts, and we’ll provide the support and guidance you need to succeed. Don’t miss this opportunity to kickstart your career.