Fashion Model Job Description
Fashion models represent brands and designers by wearing their clothing and accessories in photo shoots, commercials, and runway shows. This role typically requires both physical attractiveness and the ability to maintain an elegant and graceful appearance through long hours. Fashion models also need to be able to work with other models, along with designers, directors, and photographers, to successfully highlight and present the brand.
There are many ways to start a career as a fashion model, but most begin by signing with an agency and building a portfolio. The most successful models can eventually land higher-paying and more prestigious jobs that can take them around the world.
Fashion Model Duties and Responsibilities
While a fashion model’s duties can vary from day to day, this role tends to involve several core responsibilities:
Pose for Photo Shoots
One of the most common responsibilities of a fashion model is posing for photo shoots. Typically, a fashion model receives items of clothing from a designer or brand and works with stylists and photographers to take a series of photographs for use in print or online campaigns. This aspect of the role requires the ability to carefully listen to directions and work well with others, since many photo shoots involve several people, including other models.
Many fashion models also film television commercials and other video advertisements. While this aspect of the role frequently overlaps with photo shoots, film shoots may have added complexity and require longer hours of work. Some models may even have speaking roles in advertisements, which may require them to memorize lines or read cue cards while still highlighting the items they are wearing.
Participate in Runway Shows
Fashion models also participate in runway shows in which designers premiere their seasonal or new collections. In this aspect of the role, models need to walk with poise and convey a certain emotion under the direction of the designer or a show director while still showing off clothing items. Additionally, runway models may need to quickly change between outfits and model several within the space of one show.
Style Clothing and Makeup
While some photo shoots and runway shows have stylists to provide assistance with makeup and styling, fashion models may also need to style themselves for some gigs. In these cases, fashion models need to select makeup that highlights their features and complements the items they are modeling.
Develop and Maintain Portfolios
In order to improve their employment prospects and access higher-paying gigs, fashion models also need to develop and maintain their professional portfolios. This may involve looking through photo sets to find individual photos that highlight the model’s skills or assets. Often, fashion models may work with their agents on portfolio development, so collaboration can also be important.
Travel to Gigs
Modeling gigs can take place all around the world, so fashion models also need to be ready to travel, often on short notice. Depending on the gig, models may need to make their own travel arrangements or work with their agencies to travel to jobs in other cities or countries. In many cases, fashion models have very little downtime between landing in a new place and beginning work, so they must be ready to start working as soon as they arrive.
Fashion Model Skills and Qualifications
Fashion models represent brands by wearing their clothing during photo shoots and on runways. Most models have the following skills:
- Presentation skills – fashion models spend much of their time posing for shoots, commercials, and shows, so they should have excellent presentation skills and be aware of how they are representing themselves and the brands they work for
- Collaborative skills – fashion models tend to work closely with designers, photographers, and other fashion industry professionals, so they should be able to effectively collaborate with these individuals
- Dependability and time management – because fashion models may need to appear at gigs on short notice, they need to be extremely dependable and have excellent time management and scheduling skills
- Physical attractiveness – fashion models need to look elegant and poised during shoots and shows, so they need to be able to highlight their best qualities and present themselves beautifully
- Stamina – photo shoots and runway shows can involve hours of work, so models also need physical stamina and the ability to perform for several hours at a time while maintaining their poise
Fashion Model Education and Training
There are no formal education requirements to become a fashion model, although many workers in this role have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Most models begin their careers by submitting photographs to an agency, which then determines which models to interview. Many models also land their first gigs during “open calls” at modeling agencies. There are some modeling schools that provide fashion models with training, but most models learn to improve their abilities by working.
Fashion Model Salary and Outlook
Fashion model salaries can vary based on a variety of factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), models earned a median hourly wage of $11.01 as of May 2017. The highest-paid models earned more than $23.78 per hour, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $8.17 per hour. The BLS also notes that most models work part-time and have unpredictable work schedules.
The BLS expects that employment of models with remain stable between 2016 and 2026, with no significant increase or decline.
If you’re interested in starting a career as a fashion model, we found several resources on the web for further reading and information:
Model Alliance – Model Alliance is a professional advocacy organization for models, providing representation, industry news, professional development resources, and opportunities to connect with others in the field.
The Model’s Bible & Global Modeling Agency Contact List: An Insider’s Guide on How to Break into the Fashion Modeling Industry by R.C. Lane – this book is a valuable resource for new and aspiring models, providing advice on landing jobs and finding an agency.
“What It’s Truly Like to Be a Fashion Model” – this article explores the career of fashion models through interviews with several working models who share their experiences in the fashion industry.
Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model by Ashley Mears – read this book for an inside account of working as a fashion model written by a former model and sociologist.
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