Fashion Modelling Terminology – A Glossary of Words & Phrases

As with all industries, there are key words and phrases often said in the fashion industry that you may not have come across before.

Here, we break down the modelling terminology you need to know if you want to get into the industry.


Of all the modelling terms you’ll come across in the world of modelling, the headshot is likely going to be one of the most common. A headshot is a photograph taken of a model’s head. These are usually close-up beauty shots. You’ll need to include a headshot in your modelling portfolio and on applications. 

Model Agency

A model agency, or modelling agency, is a company that signs up models and helps them to find work. They make money by taking a cut of the model’s earnings. A model agency will help a signed model to find interviews to attend. They may also help to cover certain costs (like travel and lodging). 

Comp Card (aka Composite Card, Z-Card or Zed Card)

A comp card is a highly useful tool for any model. It’s a bit like a business card and is the same shape and size as one, except it features images of the model as well as vital details such as contact information and measurements. 

A comp card is handy to carry around at all times as it makes networking far more easy and more professional.


A tearsheet is a page featuring a model taken from a magazine or other publication essentially proving your experience. They work as evidence that you have worked or featured for a specific brand or publication.


Algorithms are something seen on social media. It relates to how a piece of software (like Instagram) follows certain rules or instructions. A model may come across this term because an Instagram model will need to be aware of the algorithms on Instagram, because these algorithms constantly change and they control when and how images are seen.

Photo Shoot

A photo shoot is a process of taking photos of models, products, or events. A photo shoot is required to gain photos that can then be used in advertising and marketing products.

Art Director

​An art director is a person responsible for a shoot, whether it’s an ad, editorial or other form of visual art.

Casting Calls

A casting call is another term for an interview. 

Fashion Modelling Terminology - A Glossary of Words & Phrases

Catwalk (aka Runway)

A catwalk or runway is a type of modelling show where models walk down a runway to show off garments and accessories. Fashion Weeks, aka London Fashion Week, are many catwalk shows taking place in a short period. 

Commercial Model

A commercial model is a model that works for high street brands. 

Cattle Call

A cattle call is a mass interview where hundreds of aspiring models can show up in the hopes of being discovered. 

Call Back

A call back is a second audition. A model has been ‘called back’ because the brand/director/agency likes the look of them and wishes to speak to and see them again.


A buyout refers to the agreement between a client and a modelling agency. 

Day Rate

​A model’s day rate refers to how much they charge per day.

Editorial Models

An editorial is a spread in a magazine (typically found in the middle) that usually tells some sort of visual story. Editorial models are the models who feature in these spreads. 


​A go-see refers to a model seeing a potential employee.

High-End (or High Fashion)

High-end and high-fashion refer to a niche of fashion modelling that relates more with supermodels (models who are household names) and premium label brands.

Model Portfolio

A model portfolio is a bit like a model’s CV. It is a portfolio showcasing up to 20 of their best photos. It also features contact information as well as other details such as measurements and clothing size. A model’s portfolio will be taken with them to interviews. 


The word ‘showroom’ has several meanings in fashion. Firstly, it refers to a room where samples are presented. Secondly, private showrooms are rooms where luxury goods can be shown to potential buyers. 

Contact Sheet

A contact sheet is a model’s information sheet with their contact details on. It may also refer to the documentation given to a model before a shoot.

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