One thing that surprises many people about the modelling industry is how big it actually is. When you think of fashion modelling as a career, glamorous shoots for magazines like Vogue and major brands like Zara come to mind. But many models have found great success working for more niche areas of the industry.
Model Adele Uddo has an impressive career portfolio working for brands such as Prada, Harper’s Bazaar and Revlon but not in the way you’d expect, these were all jobs she booked as a body part model!
There’s a lot of overlap between the different types of jobs you book when modelling professionally. Models with long-term careers tend to find either one or several successful niches for themselves. And modelling agencies with a wide client base will often put their models forward for jobs across industry sectors. So what are the different types of modelling jobs?
Types of Modelling Jobs
Runway Modelling (Catwalk)
Runway modelling is seasonal work. Each year, twice a year, fashion houses hold runway shows for their new collections. Fashion Week events are held in the four major fashion capitals – New York, London, Milan and Paris. With other smaller independent and regional fashion weeks held throughout the world.
Top models travel to the four fashion capitals for castings and to walk for the designers shows. It’s been said that modelling is notoriously competitive and hard to break into. This applies to runway modelling more so than the rest. To become a runway model, most agencies and bookers expect a minimum height of 5’8” for women and 6’0” for men. But the industry is undergoing a shift towards better diversity and inclusion, runway modelling included.
Editorials are the print stories you find across several pages in the middle of fashion magazines like Elle, GRAZIA, Harpers Bazaar and VOGUE. They’re creative stories which showcase the latest fashion and styles in an interesting, dynamic way.
Editorial modelling isn’t as restrictive as runway modelling when it comes to height or appearances, models just need to have a knack for posing and creative collaboration.
It’s not limited to fashion magazines either. Magazines like Lui, Playboy and P Magazine are famous for their art nude editorials. And models featured in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition often find their careers rocket to new heights after appearing in its pages.
When starting out as a model with no experience, you tend to work your way up from unpaid editorials with smaller magazines to paid opportunities for better-known titles.
Commercial modelling is an umbrella term for any paid modelling work for brands and the wider consumer market. There’s a range of different types of commercial work and it overlaps the most with other niches. Commercial models work for various brands across different sectors, from fashion to fast food!
Commercial modelling in fashion may look like shooting a TV campaign or taking product shots. Posing in a way that flatters clothing for brand catalogues, designer lookbooks or online retailers like Urban Outfitters – this is better known as e-com. Commercial modelling also includes advertorials, which are pages of fashion magazines bought by brands to showcase their products.
Some commercial models who have striking facial features end up working for beauty, perfume or jewellery brands in particular. Being a commercial model gives you many opportunities to work for brands outside of fashion. It’s the most diverse sector of the industry, with brands usually looking for people who come across as friendly and relatable.
Body Part Modelling
Body part models are exactly what they sound like, they book jobs for specific parts of their body to feature in advertisements. Popular parts jobs include being a hand model, lip model, leg model and hair model.
Part modelling is very niche and although mainstream model agencies will sometimes put their models forward for body part jobs, there are specialist agencies for parts models. To get started as a body part model, all you need is a feature of your body that photographs particularly well and the ability to take good care of it.
Promotional models work at live events and trade shows, representing businesses and attracting customers or audiences. Working as a promotional model is a cross between modelling and marketing. You have to look the part, advertising the business through what you’re wearing, alongside using sales skills to persuade consumers towards your client.
Promotional models can get work across a multitude of industries, like motorsports, music festivals or even healthcare. They’re often required to take promotional photos at events as part of their job. It’s well suited to anyone with a big personality and good charisma. You need to enjoy engaging with a range of different people as well as posing in front of a camera.
To be a fitness model having a love for working out and, ideally, specialising in some form of exercise is required. Fitness models book commercial jobs for sports brands where they sometimes need to showcase their skills for the shoot or campaign they’re working on.
There are agencies specialising in fitness modelling alongside more traditional modelling agencies with fitness divisions. You don’t have to meet any height requirements to be a fitness model but generally, agencies and bookers expect an athletic build that reflects the sport you’re best at. Growing a presence within the fitness community helps models better appeal to brands and agencies alike in this niche.
Glamour modelling isn’t a job for the faint of heart. It’s the most female predominant type of modelling and requires a lot of body confidence. Glamour models have to be comfortable in their skin because the work involves posing in a way that’s sexy and suggestive, where you wear little clothing to show off your beauty.
Instead of working to appeal to fashion consumers, glamour models work to appeal to people’s fantasies. Successful glamour models often use platforms like Instagram and OnlyFans to showcase their figures and build notoriety. In turn, they can expect to book jobs for men’s magazines, sexy calendars and lingerie and swimwear brands.
If you thought modelling was all posing in front of a camera in some way or other, think again. Fit models are booked by fashion brands to test sizes of garments in the manufacturing stage so that designers can see how they look on real bodies before production.
Brands with a wide consumer base will need to test a wide range of sizes to make sure a) the garment looks how it’s intended to and b) there are enough sizing options. Fitting models are normally signed with mainstream modelling agencies who find them jobs in this category. The French word for ‘model’ is ‘mannequin’ and in the case of fit modelling couldn’t be more apt.
Opportunities for all Types of Models and Modelling Jobs
This list should help demystify the different types of modelling jobs and reassure you that despite appearances, modelling isn’t one size fits all. Regardless of age, height or body shape, there’s a space for everyone in the modelling industry.
Do You Have a Model Portfolio of awesome images?
If you want to win more modelling jobs, get signed by an agency and attract the attention of fashion brands then a professional modelling portfolio is essential to your success.