Modelling has lots of different niches, and alternative modelling is one of them. It refers to the sector of modelling that works for more unique brands and companies that do not conform to mainstream ideals of beauty. These brands are targeting a very specific audience with a different style, and they require their models to reflect and inspire them.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about alternative modelling.
Who Do Alternative Models Work For?
Alternative models work for lots of different brands, but they are mostly seen working with brands that cater to a more diverse audience. For example, brands that sell more goth-like clothing would look for a more alternative model to represent them.
Tattoo shops would also look for an alternative model to reflect their target audience. A hair salon that specialises in bright, fun colours would also look for an alternative model.
Basically, an alternative model refers to anyone who does not fit into the typical model look. Typical models have skin clear of visible tattoos and piercings, they usually need to have natural-coloured hair and they must meet specific physical requirements (height, body shape etc).
Alternative models are able to be more artistic and adventurous with their looks. Tattoos, piercings, body modifications and a quirky dress sense are all accepted and even encouraged, depending on the brand.
Alternative models are required for brands that represent subcultures like steampunk, emo, goth, burlesque, punk and fetish model.
Alternative models are required all over the world – from Europe to America, the alternative look is ever-growing and always in-demand of models to represent it.
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What Do You Need to Be An Alternative Model?
There are no specific criteria for alternative models. Unlike high-fashion which demands models to be a certain height and shape, all body shapes and sizes are accepted in alternative modelling.
Most brands and agencies will look for alternative models who are on the taller side. That means being over 5’8″ for women and over 5’11” for men. However, being shorter than these heights will not prevent you from a career in alternative modelling. If you photograph well and look good in front of the camera, that’s what matters most.
Brands and agencies will also look for models who have good teeth, are confident in front of the camera and who photograph well. Some people may be attractive but photograph horribly; others are not as attractive in-person, but look amazing in print. Ideally, a model wants to look great both in-person and in photos, but the latter is more important in modelling.
Famous Alternative Models
– Dita Von Teese
– Adora Batbrat
– Tess Holliday
– Melanie Gaydos
– Grace Neutral
– Iska Ithil
– Malice McMunn
– Dany Divine
How to Be an Alternative Model
Like all forms of modelling, alternative models must have a strong portfolio in order to get noticed. A portfolio should contain up to 20 high-quality modelling photos, usually around A4 in size. If you are completely new to the business of modelling, you might not yet have any professional photos. In this situation, you should think about hiring a photographer to take some photos of you. This will give you valuable photoshoot experience and will also give you the opportunity to walk away with some photos to add to your portfolio and z-cards.
Your photos should reflect our style and natural beauty, but they should also show off your alternative style. If you have unique hair, tattoos or body modifications, show them off in your photos. Study alternative brands and magazines and see what sort of photos they tend to publish. Include plenty of alternative looks in your portfolio to show off your style.
There are lots of agencies that work specifically with alternative models. You can research them online and apply via the application process on their website. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from an agency immediately. Agencies receive thousands of applications each week and there are several reasons why you might not be selected straight away. Remember that you can re-apply to an agency, and you can send an application to as many agencies as you want.
If you hear back from an agency, it will be to invite you to their headquarters for an in-person meeting. These usually take place in a major city like London or Manchester. It will be a fair audition and you won’t be judged on your lack of height or body proportions; they are more likely to be interested in your personal style and overall look. You may be asked to pose for a photo, or to show off your walk. You will be told there and then if they think you are a good fit for their agency.
You should also have an edgy attitude and some sort of stand-out trait that sets you apart from the rest. Alternative modelling is all about being unique and standing out from the crowd.
Social media, in particular Instagram, is a great tool for aspiring alternative models to show off their unique looks. Social media allows you to build a fan base and attract the attention of different brands. If you can build an audience of like-minded people, alternative brands will be happy to pay you to tap into this resource. Many social media influencers make good money by collaborating and via brand advertising.
YouTube and Facebook are also popular to use to build a following, but as Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, it’s the most applicable for models.
– Dr Martens
– Attitude Clothing
– Disturbia Clothing
– Jawbreaker Clothing
– London Edge
Tips to Make it As An Alternative Model
– Keep updating your portfolio. Take on as much work experience as you can, even if it is unpaid at the beginning.
– Practice. Just because you have an edgy look doesn’t mean you’ll be amazing in front of the camera – you’ll still need to put some work into it.
– Look after yourself. Models with a good, proportional body shape will find more work compared to those who don’t. Eat well and exercise regularly.
– Research. Research alternative brands and publications. Find out what models they work with, and the type of imagery they like.
– Network. The more people you know within the industry, the more chance you will have of getting work.