As a fashion model, you would promote clothing and accessories to fashion buyers, customers and the media. You might model items in fashion shows, or in photographs for catalogues, magazines, newspapers and advertising campaigns. If you are interested in fashion and you look after your appearance, a job as a model might suit you.
In this job you will need to be well groomed. You will also have to have a professional attitude and the ability to get on with a wide range of people. You don’t need any formal qualifications to get into this type of work. It’s important is that you the right ‘look’ for the kind of modelling you wish to do.
You could specialise in various types of modelling, such as:
- photographic, advertising and TV commercials
- fashion and catwalk
- in-house live modelling for designers and clothing wholesalers
- promotional modelling (demonstrating non-fashion items at product launches and trade fairs)
- alternative modelling, if you have piercings, tattoos or an edgy, diverse look.
In fashion show modelling you would walk along a catwalk, turning to display clothes in front of an audience.
In photographic, advertising and commercial modelling you would:
- pose for photographers in a studio or on location
- take directions from photographers
- act or deliver lines in TV commercials.
If you worked as an in-house live model, designers would fit garments onto you in the workshop, and you would show finished clothing to fashion buyers and private customers. You might also have basic reception and secretarial duties when not modelling.
As a photographic or catwalk model, you would work closely with stylists, hair and make-up artists, producers and directors. You would also spend much of your time going to castings for jobs, keeping in contact with your agency, and looking after your appearance.
Working hours and conditions
You might work in fashion show venues, showrooms and stores, photographic studios or various other locations depending on the needs of a photo shoot.
Working hours could be long and irregular, depending on the type and amount of work you had.
The job can involve a lot of travel in the UK and overseas to cities such as Paris, Milan and Madrid to attend castings, fashion shows and photo shoots.
Earnings can vary widely depending on your experience and reputation within the modelling industry.
Models can work through an agent who may take around 20% of their earnings. Some models may also work on a freelance basis where they will agree a fee with the client.
Rates can vary from around £50 to £1,000 a booking.
Models working for fashion houses may earn between £10,000 and £30,000 a year depending on the number of hours worked.
A small number of very well known, top models may earn higher salaries.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To work as a model you need a good appearance and the right ‘look’ for the branch of modelling you wish to go into. You don’t need any formal qualifications.
For fashion modelling, you should be tall and well-proportioned with regular features and healthy skin, teeth and hair. The Association of Model Agents (AMA) recommends that you should have the following body measurements:
- females: bust-waist-hip measurements of no more than 34-24-34 inches (86-61-86cms) and height of at least five feet eight inches (1.72m)
- males: 40-inch (97 to 102cm) chest, 33-inch (84cm) inside leg and height of at least six feet (1.83m).
For other types of modelling you would need to fit in with the look that modelling agencies want. For example, ‘plus size’ modelling agencies may mainly be looking for size 12 to 16 models, although opportunities exist for size 18 and above. Classic model agencies may look for people of all ages, and agencies who supply models with an ‘ordinary appearance’ could take on people of different ages, weights and looks.
You would usually start your career by sending photographs and details of your measurements to a modelling agency. Many model agencies also employ talent scouts, who go out looking for people with the potential for a modelling career.
You do not need to do a modelling course or have an expensive portfolio of pictures to get onto the books of an agency. Reputable agencies will be able to assess your potential without expensive photos or training. If an agency is interested in you, they should help you to build a portfolio of good photographs.
You should not have to pay an up-front fee to join an agency, although they may deduct an administration fee when you start to earn money. You should do your research and make sure that you join a reputable agency. See the advice on how to choose a reputable model agency and avoid rogue agencies, photographers and model scouts.
Competition in modelling can be very strong. You will need to have a strong character, resilience, and be fit and healthy to cope with long hours and demanding schedules. Visit the Equity website’s Models’ area for advice on coping with the demands of a career in modelling.
- Equity (Models’ area)
If you start modelling before legal school leaving age, you must be licensed by your local council. Visit the GOV.UK website for more information.
- GOV.UK (Child performance licence)
Training and development
Once you have been accepted by a modelling agency, you will usually be given some training in:
- basic walks, turns and poses
- photographic modelling techniques
- diet and health
- skin care and grooming
- how to work with agents.
Some will also provide you with a few professional photographs to start your portfolio or book, that you show to potential employers.
Most agencies will not charge you up-front for training and test shots if they believe you have potential, although they may deduct a fee from your earnings when you first find paid assignments.
Some independent modelling schools provide courses that can teach you more about the modelling industry such as how to pose and walk. There is usually a cost attached to courses and they may not guarantee you work. It is worth researching any course, to see what benefits it will offer you, before making a decision.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a fashion model you should have:
- good grooming and willingness to look after yourself
- fashion sense and awareness of trends
- good coordination
- confidence, self-reliance and discipline
- a pleasant, professional attitude with good ‘people skills’
- good time-keeping
- patience, stamina and fitness to cope with long, tiring days and travelling
- the ability to cope with criticism and rejection.