If this industry were a movie, editorial fashion modeling highlights the leading men and leading woman: the "stars" of the business so to speak. The commercial print model fits into the picture as essentially, a character type.
The commercial print model is The Girl Next Door in that ad for Kodak film. The commercial model is The Mom in the Skippy's peanut butter in Redbook magazine. It's the tattooed B-Boy in that Pepsi ad on the subway platform. In many ways, a successful commercial print model is an idealized version of a "type". Your anonymity becomes, in its own way, your selling point because then the product takes precedence.
And as is clear from those examples, commercial print modeling involves a wide range of looks, heights, ages, body types and ethnicities. Typical clients will request a very specific ideal of what they're looking for. On one day, "Japanese male and female in their late 20s to early 30s, regular, good looking, hip." On another day they might only give a generalized outline "White Male, 40s".
Because diversity is the ideal, a commercial print agency will try to have as many of these types as it can reasonably stock on its modeling board. What that means is, two different models at a commercial print model may very well be a universe apart in terms of looks and age. This is unlike the board of an editorial or commercial fashion agency where the models have a high degree of similarity in terms of looks and body type.
editorial or commercial fashion agency, there is not a huge focus on recruiting
and developing models on an international or even national level. Residence
near the key local markets for commercial print modeling (New York, Chicago,
Miami and LA) is a big plus when a commercial print agency recruits potential
Another point of interest concerning this field is that it is not uncommon for commercial print models to "freelance" with more than one agency. The time and cost intensive process that is devoted to marketing a new editorial model, is not reproduced in the marketing of a commercial print model. Thus the "exclusive contract" is not as common in this field.
fashion models, while they may not date Hollywood stars to worldwide fascination,
in essence carry their agencies financially. The market need that these
models fulfill is formidable indeed and represent the bread and butter
bottom line of the industry. It is where the agency lingo "money
job" and "money girls" stems from.
among a cluster of boutique editorial agencies in New York, an interesting
trend is evolving where models who were thought of as being exclusively
ultra-editorial, are now actively pursuing more middle-of-the-road clients.
Thus a Vogue cover girl can also shoot Express campaigns and do the Victoria's
Secret show, a scenario that just two years ago would have been considered
disastrously down market.
A lot of smaller, lesser known agencies nationwide also make commercial fashion modeling their bread and butter since outside of NY, LA and Miami, the pool of high-end clients is severely limited. Signing with a local agency, for the most part means your career will be tracked in the "commercial" direction. The point is the borders for a commercial fashion model are pretty fluid. A commercial fashion model may be requested for the same casting as a commercial print model, for say a Prell shampoo print campaign targeted for teen publications.
models range in height between 5' 7" and 6', though with local markets,
models at 5' 6" and less have some negotiating power. Plus size models
tend to range from a size 10 to a size 18 though most of the conventional
"editorial" plus size market settles in the range between a
10 and a 16. Again, local markets will entertain models who are size 16
and up but there is still a tendency for the plus size industry to highlight
the smaller sizes, with the 14's getting a lion's share of the work.
size market is also strict in terms of what it demands of its models.
A size 14 still has to be toned, which means a model with very little
cellulite is the ideal. And of course, height needs to be proportionate
with weight. Just as in high fashion editorial modeling, clothing samples
come in fixed sizes and the conventional wisdom is the model fits the
clothes, not the other way around.
this market does skew predominantly towards men, there is a respectable
demand for female fitness models, especially focused around the field
of aerobics, which is a boom industry, in and of itself.
to get seen by the best commercial modeling agencies?
Special thanks to Roger/RandL, Betty Sze and the MDC Modeling Forum family for their invaluable help in researching this article.