Getting into the world of modelling can seem tricky. You’ll find most advice pointing you to get signed to a reputable modelling agency – but what exactly is a fashion modelling agency, and how do you get signed to one?
Here, we break down everything you need to know about modelling agencies.
What is a Modelling Agency?
A modelling agency is an agency created specifically for fashion models. If you worked for a brand like Nike and needed a model for an upcoming photoshoot or campaign, you would go to a modelling agency with a list of requirements and source one from there.
A modelling agency will have a roster of models for the brand to go through and select their favourites. Remember that brands will have a very clear image in their head of the type of model they want to represent or reflect their current campaign as well as their overarching business tone and feel.
While many brands may have a specific celebrity they want to help endorse their brand and reach a wider audience, many brands will want to book fresh faces, and a modelling agency is the easiest way to find the best new person.
A model might be required for adverts, editorials, runway shows or publishing purposes. A brand may be given something a bit like a catalogue (though nowadays it’s done online mostly) for them to browse through and select their favourite model(s).
These models will still need to go through an in-person vetting – they may still not land the job Just because a model is signed to a modelling agency, it does not guarantee them work. They must still go through an interview process unless they are very famous or in demand, in which case an interview may be overlooked.
How Easy is it to Get Signed to a Modelling Agency?
Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to get signed to a modelling agency. It’s a very popular career aspiration and there are therefore a lot of applicants weekly. That means competition is high, so you have to stand out.
The modelling industry also likes to rely on word-of-mouth and networking. This makes it very difficult for an outsider to get a look-in.
Most agencies have application forms on their website, so in theory, it’s very easy to apply – but it’s difficult to get noticed and accepted.
Who Gets Signed to a Modelling Agency?
Those who have the right look and personality will get signed to a modelling agency. They’re always on the lookout for new faces, but similarly, they want people who will match the look that is currently in fashion. This is constantly changing, so people fall in and out of favour quickly.
Models who have a large social media presence or who are already famous tend to do particularly well because they already have a fanbase they can sell to. They have the ability to influence those around them, so they will be more likely to land roles because it’s likely they will make a brand more sales just by being in the public eye. That’s why so many actors and athletes are regularly seen modelling for big brands.
In the high fashion industry (for models required to walk on catwalks in fashion shows), they will be looking for models who are over 5’8″ at least with a naturally slender build. This genre of modelling is most difficult to get into, and most infamously ruthless about its requirements.
Commercial modelling is far more relaxed and will be on the lookout for more normal-looking people, as well as those who fit into the petite, plus-size, tall and fitness categories.
Child models need to have a good personality and lots of energy to be considered.
How to Find a Modelling Agency
Modelling agencies and model management are easy to find – it’s just a case of using the internet to find the most reputable agencies. It’s getting signed to one that’s the problem.
There are a lucky few who are scouted by model scouts; these are people who work for an agency. Many supermodels start their careers this way – by being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, this relies on pure luck.
While some agencies are looking for a range of models who look different, many are after a very specific look. It’s a good idea to browse their selection of models first before applying to make sure you match. Similarly, though, they won’t want to hire a model who looks identical to a model already signed to their books.
Generally, agencies are constantly on the lookout for new talent, so there are always many opportunities to apply. They will usually state on their website if they are not currently looking.
How to Have a Strong Application
You MUST have a strong portfolio of photos, even if you’re a complete beginner. That means having some up-to-date headshots taken in a professional setting, as well as some full-length body shots so they can get an idea of your figure.
You must also be brutally honest in your description information. They will ask for your height, dress size, shoe size and measurements; don’t try to lie here, as you’ll soon be found out if you are invited to a dress fitting. Make sure to update these regularly too as we all fluctuate throughout our lives in size and shape – particularly women.
It’s a good idea to hire a photoshoot with a professional photographer to get some great photos for your portfolio that can also be used for your application and on your z-cards when first starting out. As your experience and career progress, you can begin to swap out old photos with newer photos taken on the job – just remember to ask the permission of the brand/photographer first, especially if you plan to post photos on social media.
What Happens After You’ve Applied?
If an agency isn’t interested, you probably won’t hear back from them. Don’t lose faith – rejection is a typical part of modelling and one you will need to be ok with if you are to successfully pursue a career in the world of fashion.
If an agency is interested, they’ll get in touch with you either via phone or e-mail and ask to meet for an in-person audition.
What Happens Next?
If the agency is interested, they’ll invite you to an audition or “casting call”. You’ll have to win them over with your looks and personality in person.
It’s a good idea to take some nude underwear and a pair of heels you can walk into your audition. This is in case they want you to try clothing on or show off your walk.
Most agencies are located in London, Manchester or Liverpool, so be prepared to travel if you don’t live there.
Be sure to arrive in good time and avoid being late at all costs.
Dress with care – you want to appear stylish and professional, yet also show off your model physique.
Take some water and a few snacks in case you have to wait to be seen. It’s also a good idea to take a portable phone charger and something else to keep you occupied like a magazine.