Become a model: three bookers explain how it works!

For many young people, becoming a model still sounds like a dream job. Certainly, getting paid for your good looks, traveling a lot for jobs and, on top of that, getting samples from the coolest brands at best definitely reads as a pleasant job description. In addition, flexibility is certainly one of the decisive arguments why being a model is still interesting for many people.

As a (small) business owner, you are basically your own boss and only work when you have been given jobs through the modeling agency. In quantitative terms, therefore, people work less for a higher daily wage than is the case for employees in normal salaried employment. At the same time, however, one is dependent on the fact that there are jobs and one is booked. Because if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. With regular orders, however, good money can also be earned in a short time. In addition, you get to know new people and places all the time, building an international network of contacts that will certainly be beneficial later in life.

Can anyone become a model?

But even here the almost dusty sentence applies: "All that glitters is not gold!" Because being a model has its downsides, which you can see in our "Best version of ourselves"-Society rarely gets to see. Behind the beautiful appearance, aspiring models can expect hours of waiting between castings, continuous competition among themselves and at least ten times as many rejections for a booked job.

The face, the figure and the basic presence are continuously an issue, because there will always be someone who has better conditions and is more beautiful or more successful than you are. Modeling is definitely not an easy job, and it’s not just about taking pretty pictures, even though it’s still often portrayed as just that in the media. Regardless of appearance and figure, not everyone is made for this profession, because it requires a strong psyche and self-confidence.

"Modeling is definitely not an easy job and it’s not just about taking pretty pictures."

What do you have to bring to become a model?

In general, information and requirements for this career field are still difficult to find on the Internet and are often very confusing. That’s why we spoke to three model bookers who answered the most important questions about becoming a model, the application process, the requirements and the job in general. Yong Wang is the owner of the Munich model agency Tigers MGMT, Sven Melzer is a booker at Mint Artist Management in Berlin and Nanda Rai is a booker on the Curve Board of the model agency Wilhelmina. Wang answered our questions about female models, whereas Melzer covers male models. Learn more about how you can apply as a model and which pictures are a prerequisite here.

3 bookers answer the most important questions about becoming a model

How important are the classic "model measurements"? today still?

Yong Wang: On the international catwalks, strict measurements still apply in some cases. Unlike in the past, however, there is now also a "minimum BMI" required to be medically supervised. Models who are too thin are sent home.

Sven Melzer: The measurements of the boys are still very important today. At the same time they vary a lot from label to label. Versace, for example, prefers a well-toned, muscular type, whereas Saint Laurent prefers androgynous models.

Nanda Rai: Fortunately, the previous standard measurements for models are no longer a uniform or fixed size. Of course, there are still the couture shows where models have to fit into a set sample size, but the curve space has definitely established itself as an influential spectrum above dress size 36. I think the positive response from consumers has been instrumental in convincing the industry to go for more inclusive sizes. Of course, it has a positive influence on buying behavior and experience when consumers see themselves represented by the model.

Do you find that the development on the catwalks (also in relation to the bodies of the models) is becoming more diverse?

Y.W.Diversity is now also a big issue in the fashion business. In my opinion, it’s about time that the industry opens up accordingly. There is now more acceptance of models who don’t fit the norm, and I also focus on different gender identities and "non-stereotypes" in my portfolio Models.

N.R.When it comes to diversity in particular, the fashion industry is currently undergoing a significant change. Brands like Fenty are remembered precisely because they show models of all different sizes in their fashion shows in the new collections. When the Hadids teamed up with curvy model Lulu Bonfils for "Savage x Fenty walk over the same catwalk, this is an incisive experience for the guests in the front row. It’s brands like Fenty, Glossier and Universal Standard that are creating a change in the industry through their inclusive booking, which is why they have such a large following. With their success, they then ensure that other brands jump on this bandwagon. This is how they mix up the market!

What do you value as a booker? Is good looks really everything?

Y.W.: Good looks are of course important. But besides the right measurements and body size, I also pay attention to personality and charisma.

S.M.At Mint we don’t just focus on looks, we represent personalities. A good, interesting look is important, but personality is key. Applicants can be as beautiful as they are, but an empty shell is of no interest these days.

N.R.As the booker of the Curve board, I pay the most attention to proportions. It is very important that the bust and hips of the (prospective) models are proportional so that the sample sizes fit. Of course, good looks are a door opener in this respect. But what the models have to offer beyond that is decisive. Top models like Ashley Graham and La Tecia are not just models, they are designers, influencers, bloggers, musicians, activists etc. – Good looks alone are no longer enough.

What makes a good model in your opinion??

Y.W.: In addition to personality, also a long breath and a large portion of cordiality.

S.M.: discipline and good management.

N.R.You have to constantly fight to be a part of this industry. And especially when you fall out of the norm, the criticism you receive is incomparably harsher. One trait I see in our top curve models because of this is the courage to keep going, despite all they have to listen to. Moreover, creativity, personality, body positivity, self-love and also leadership quality are important, after all, they constantly pave the way for those who follow them.

Are there qualities that applicants should definitely have if they want to pursue a career as a model??

Y.W.: If you want to make a career, you need a good understanding of the fashion industry. In addition, determination, spontaneity and reliability. Without good work ethics it does not work.

S.M.: Besides the look, nowadays it is also an absolute MUST to be active on social media and have a successful Instagram account. Followers today represent a value for every customer and therefore also a decisive criterion.

N.R.The most important quality that potential Curve models should have is self-confidence. The fashion industry has long been known to only allow a certain body type. That’s why it still happens that models who fall out of this stereotype are not treated equally on the set or at castings. In addition, there are also some difficulties on the set for "Plus sized" models-Models, as many stylists are not adequately prepared or many high fashion brands are simply not produced in large sizes. Self-confidence is therefore important so that they are not discouraged by such things.

Does social media really play such a big role and is it true that a certain following opens doors in the fashion world??

Y.W.: Social media presence is now essential in our business! Followers on Instagram provide greater exposure and guarantee a wider reach to potential clients. For most models today this is a matter of course, but if there is a need for advice here, as an agent I am happy to help out. It is quite possible that this will open certain doors in the first place.

S.M.Unfortunately, social media play far too big a role these days. Reach is an important topic for all involved, because of this the industry has changed a lot. Bloggers and influencers are now the new muses of brands.

How can applicants make sure they have come to a trustworthy agency? In your opinion, what makes a good model agency or a good booker??

Y.W.For girls under 18, parents or guardians sit at the table from the beginning. Parents at the table. Beyond that: Finger away, if agencies require pre-payments! A reputable agency always pays in advance. It also helps to have lists, for example, like the one on are to be found. Serious agencies are noted on it.

S.M.As #MeToo has already shown, there are still many black sheep in the fashion industry. As an absolute newbie, I would therefore recommend googling and also taking a look at the Instagram accounts of modeling agencies.

Is there a minimum or maximum age for modeling??

Y.W.: The minimum age for girls and boys is 16 years old. You shouldn’t be older than your early 20s if you want to get started. With men it is a bit more generous. There are cases where I send an applicant back home and ask to reapply later if the age and personality match the industry requirements.

S.M.I personally like to work with male models who are 18 years or older. Upwards there are really no limits for men.

N.R.The minimum age at Wilhelmina is between 15 and 16 years for female models. We pride ourselves on being able to shape and support models early on, before they actually set foot in the industry. The maximum age for the Curve board is around 45 years old.

How can you, as an agency, ensure that the safety is "on set"? is guaranteed? incidents such as those that have become increasingly public in recent years are not repeated?

Y.W.In the case of underage models, the parents or agents may always be present on the set. But there are also clients, big print media, designers or photographers, who generally only work with models over 18. Casting directors, production, agents and even the models themselves have become much more sensitive to the issue, and any offense is no longer tolerated. In addition, before each job, the agency clarifies with the client and model what is to be expected at the shoot. One violation is spreading like wildfire in the industry these days and especially in social media as well.

S.M.At Mint we attach great importance to the fact that we represent only a small number of talents, but we take care of them very personally. Of course, this also includes accompanying our proteges to the set. Especially when these are still underage.

Isn’t the market already oversaturated? Is it even worth applying?

Y.W.This industry is never oversaturated. It is very fast-moving and therefore always needs new faces and impulses. Personally, I only accept models that I believe in one hundred percent and for whom I also see an international chance. So it is definitely worth applying!

S.M.: Absolutely right. In the meantime, the industry is so fast-moving. Every season, whether for men or women, there are countless new faces (so-called "New Faces"). As a booker you often think "Wow, I think she/he is great". This will be the new high flyer!", but in the end you won’t see him/her in any of the big shows in the following season. Unfortunately the motto is still: "One day you are in, one day you are out." Therefore it really depends on the certain look and the charisma. That’s why it’s also so important to convince with a great personality. You want to be remembered by the designers and casting directors. And of course, it’s important to have a booker or agency that is completely behind you and believes in you!

N.R.: By default, models work around ten to twelve years after they have turned 18. At least, if you look at editorials or head campaigns. Nevertheless, we are always looking for the new, fresh face. New talent is what makes agencies interesting in the advertising market.

How do the appearance, qualities and requirements differ between the different divisions??

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