It is fashion week season again and in this spirit, The Economist has recently published an article talking about recent changes in the modeling business.
To start, the same old model stereotype is not "in" anymore. Models are not "young and impressionable" anymore. They are educated and "aspiring young women". And yes, the industry actually prefers them because it saves money and time. Educated models are more likely to show up on time for work and are more responsible over all.
Another trend in modeling is the increasingly gap between top models earnings and "standard" models. While for top models contracts are kept extremely confidential and a one-off deal for a shoot can begin at $75,000, rising to $1.5m for a global advertising campaign. For the rest of the models, remuneration has decreased, mainly due to the globalized world that allows agencies to seek for models in emerging economies. Brazil, for instance, is the hottest place for headhunters.
And speaking of Brazil, the country had two out of the top 5 World's Top Earning Model, according to Forbes. Gisele Bündchen, of course, was number 1, with $45m in earnings in 2011. And Adriana Lima was fourth, with $8m.
|Source: The Economist, Forbes|
But beautiful faces are worth it. Advertisers say that the right face is lucrative. For instance, Procter & Gamble’s campaign featuring Gisele Bündchen is said to have raised sales of its Pantene shampoo in Brazil by 40%.
In any case, in the modeling career, the best achievement is still to be the face of a luxury brand like Dior, Chanel or Burberry. And to get there, a model must have experience, that is, magazine shoots in her/his portfolio. Consequently, given that the demand to be in a magazine photo shoot is so high, fashion magazines pay very little for the models work.
This system leads to the crossroad in modeling careers. Editorial models versus catalogue models. "There remains an iron divide between “editorial” models, who appeal to the expensive designers, and “catalogue” models, who are often slightly larger and more conventionally pretty. The catalogue models pose in normal clothes, which is less glamorous. But they earn a steadier income, and are less likely to be dropped by the time they reach their late 20s".
And lets not forget another pillar in the modeling segment. Agencies. Although agents take around 20% of a model’s fee, plus another 20% from the client, agencies struggle and must find "models whose faces somehow capture the Zeitgeist, as defined by the big brands and their capricious artistic directors".
|Source: Vogue Germany|
But, at the end of the day, "power in the fashion business depends on fame". And high luxury brands still dictate the rules. Whether it is Karl Lagerfeld calling singer Adele "fat" and implicitly supporting the industry's mania for "size 0" or Gucci and Marc Jacobs causing shortage of models by ordering and detaining models as they please.