Requirements for being a Fashion Model

Posted on August 17, 2011


We all see models on commercials, in various magazines, and say, “I can do that!”  This seems to be the one area everyone who wants to model wants to be – and they think they will get paid large sums of money when they do. At the very top of the structure, yes, it is a well paying job if you have an advertising contract.

What exactly is Fashion modeling? This type of modeling is about selling a product. This is typically clothing, undergarments, accessories, and even beauty products. The focus is the products – not the model.  If the image has to be about you, then fashion modeling probably isn’t for you.

What qualifications are there for fashion modeling? In most markets, you need to start between the ages of 15 and 19 years of age. You will need to be at least five foot eight inches tall, and no more than six feet tall. You must be super thin – no more than 105 lbs at five foot eight inches to no more than 115 lbs at six feet tall. Your breast size must be a 34B or smaller. Tattoos, piercings, stretch marks, and scars are highly frowned upon. Frequently, there will be a background check to make sure there isn’t anything that can be damaging to a prospective client in your past or erotic nude images that could come out and damage the client’s reputation while you model for them. There is little wiggle room in these requirements. They are designed from tradition to eliminate potential people from becoming models, and they are clear cut requirements. If you don’t meet these requirements, then fashion modeling is not something you should be trying to do. Being a fashion model with these requirements met is hard enough (maybe 8 in 1000 succeed, and 1 in 1000 make a living). Outside of these requirements are almost impossible.

In addition to these qualifications, you need to have an attitude that is favourable to the industry. This means working with people and being a team player. Expecting people to cater to your wishes and desires isn’t tolerated and is frowned upon.  Being happy, trying your best, having a smile and working to accomplish the goals of the shoot are prized. Being able to make 60 degree water look warm and pleasing in the middle of December or January is normal. If you haven’t modeled before, posing will be work. Don’t think it is easy and you really don’t do much but look pretty.

Something else you will have to do is move to one of the fashion hubs of the world. This means moving to New York City, Paris, Milan, or any of the other fashion hubs of the world. You say you want to stay where you are in another town? That won’t get you the paying jobs to make your living as a model. This type of behavior is sometimes looked at as dipping your toe in the water and not committing to being a model. When you get to those locations, you will often be crammed in an apartment or flat with one or two too many people. If you have a child, you may go months without seeing him or her.

This also means going to places without family or people who you know. For instance, one of the major modeling agencies has a model drive where they recruit models for a week and a half camp to find out if the aspiring models have what it takes to be a model. This means being selective and choosing only the best and flying them to that camp – often with maybe one or two prospective models from each country. As a prospective model, you won’t have any money and will be at risk. They will push the prospective model to see what that model will do, how they handle the competition, and if they can stand up to the model life. Those that don’t get sent home without representation and back where they started.

You may think that everything will always be safe and OK. Nothing can be further from the truth. You will probably have to travel to other countries. Depending on the country, it may be a dangerous place to be. You may be asked to do dangerous things like model with wild animals. You may even be asked to do semi-nude or full nude modeling. You will have to make choices.

If you want to stay in your own town, and not venture to one of the major fashion hubs, you can still model. Just don’t expect to get a lucrative advertising contract. Frequently in smaller cities and towns, the work is often unpaid and for experience only even with an agency.

Many people say how models make a lot of money doing nothing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, this is the highest paying modeling type out there, but there only only a small number of models making money in the millions. A few more in the hundreds of thousands. All of these models are in New York or one of the other modeling capitols. If we go to something like modeling locally in runway shows or for photographers locally, there isn’t any pay. Likewise, with magazines and their editorial content, they pay enough to cover travel expenses, but the work isn’t the most lucrative out there. Because of this, there is really no way to say what a model would earn.

I have listed some general requirements, and what to expect as a fashion model. If you don’t think you can meet these requirements, then being a fashion model is probably not for you. There are other modeling options available such as commercial or catalog modeling, editorial modeling, and art modeling. I will cover each of these in later blog entries.

The infamous shameless plug at the end: If you are looking for a photographer for portraits, please take a look at XOIND Studios. More information can be found at XOIND Studios web page.

All information and images are ©2012 Don Krajewski on this post.

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Posted in: Modeling