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Types of Modeling

When aspiring models start to enter the industry, many are unaware of all the different types of modeling they can do aside from mainstream commercial and fashion modeling. In this post, I go over several different types of modeling to help give a better idea of all the other options you have as a working model.

Commercial Modeling

This is one of the most common types of modeling. The purpose of commercial models is to sell or promote a specific product or brand. Brand campaigns, advertisements, billboards, catalogs, and product packaging are all examples of modeling jobs that fall under the commercial umbrella.

The height, size, and age requirements for models in this genera are much less strict because the companies are trying to appeal to the masses, so you will see a much more diverse range of models used for these jobs. They want to relate to everyday people, so they want models who look more like the average person so their potential customers can more easily connect with that brand.

Fashion/Editorial Modeling

Fashion/editorial modeling is another of the main types of modeling and is the one most people think of when they hear the term "model". This modeling style is typically what you see in fashion magazines, and the goal is to tell a story through a series of images. Fashion/editorial modeling is also used to sell products, but usually has a combination of brands and products in the images and is selling an overall feeling or emotion (that is then associated with the different products used in the story).

Unlike commercial modeling, which aims to relate to and sell to the masses, fashion/editorial style is typically geared toward a more exclusive audience. Because of this, the types of models preferred for this style often don't closely relate to the average population. While the idea of what a fashion/editorial model is and should look like has slowly become more inclusive, the model body-type requirements for this category are still relatively strict and non-inclusive. With very specific height, size, and sometimes age requirements, this modeling category is much more challenging to get into. Often, the length of time models work in this category is shorter than in the commercial world.

Runway Modeling

In a nutshell, a runway model is a model that wears clothing and/or accessories on a runway in front of an audience. While this seems straightforward, many requirements go into being a runway model.

While the modeling industry is slowly becoming more inclusive regarding height, size, and age requirements for runway models, the standards are still very strict. Runway models must be taller than your average person, generally 5'9"-6' for women and 6'-6'3" for men. The height requirement alone really narrows the selection pool, but on top of height requirements, there are size requirements too. For women, sizes 0-4 are generally required. It's a little more flexible for men, but they are still expected to be slim and fit. Due to the strict size requirements, runway models, especially women, get started very young. Most start around 17 and age out by the time they hit 25.

E-Commerce Modeling

Simply put, e-commerce (aka electronic commerce) is selling and buying products online. E-commerce models, much like the catalog models of the past, help sell products such as clothing, jewelry, accessories, etc. This is not an entirely different role than the ones that commercial models play; however, unlike commercial models, they usually act as human mannequins and display a product. When an e-commerce model poses for an online retailer, their faces are often not even shown in the photos. Instead, it's just their bodies or specific body parts showing how the product looks on the human form.

There aren't many restrictions when it comes to e-commerce modeling like those for fashion or runway modeling. Since brands have a wide variety of audiences they try to appeal to, they often have a diverse lineup of models that they use on their websites to sell their products. Instead of general across-the-board requirements, brands will have specific requirements that models must fit to get booked by them. Strong posing skills and body awareness are a must, as posing to show off specific products is much different than the more dramatic posing models would do in non-e-commerce photoshoots.

Fit Modeling

Not to be confused with fitness modeling, a fit model has a behind-the-scenes role in the industry and is a vital part of the clothing design process.

If you're outside or new to the fashion industry, you are most likely unaware of the process involved with designing and producing clothing and the role models play. Most garments start out being created on paper or a computer and eventually get transferred to a mannequin, but to see how a garment will fit and move on a real person, it needs to be fit to one. Here is where the fit model comes in. A fit model will wear an article of clothing and stand for the design team while they evaluate the fit and movement and adjust the garments as needed. This step in the design process is crucial because designers must know if their creations can translate from concept to mass production.

Just as other modeling genres have requirements on things like size and height, fit modeling is no different. However, there isn't necessarily an across-the-board standard that models must meet. Each brand and clothing manufacturer has different audiences they are trying to appeal to (children, standard men & women, maternity, big & tall, etc.), and they will need a fit model to represent their target audience. So, while you may not have to fit the typical "fashion model" standards, you still need a well-proportioned and symmetrical body that fits the client's needs.

Fitness Modeling

A fitness model, like other types of models, is paid to promote clothing, products, and brands. What differentiates them from other models is that the clothing, products, and brands they're modeling for are in the fitness and health/wellness industries. They are often used to promote things like fitness/health supplements and fitness equipment, and are often used in gym membership commercials and marketing. Fitness models also often compete in competitions where they are judged on their physique.

As with other modeling types, there are requirements when it comes to physical appearance. In this realm of modeling, height is less of a sticking point than it is for other types of modeling, but top physical fitness is a non-negotiable for most brands. Due to the nature of the brands and products fitness models are used to promote, having a physically fit body with defined muscle tone is a necessity. When it comes to modeling in competitions, there are different categories, such as Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure, that have slightly different body type requirements.

Parts Modeling

Unlike in a typical editorial or commercial photoshoot where the model's whole body or face is the focus, parts modeling rarely shows a model's entire face or body. Instead, models will model specific body parts, such as their hands, legs, or feet. A parts model can do editorial, advertising, and commercial work to show off jewelry, shoes, or other accessories.

Since the face and the entire body are rarely shown, there are few restrictions regarding height or size to be able to be a parts model. However, since this type of modeling focuses on specific body parts, things like your hands, legs, or feet must be nearly flawless. Your skin must be smooth and even-toned with no scarring or blemishes, and your nails must be in excellent condition. In addition, things like tattoos can be dealbreakers, but occasionally, tattoos are specifically requested for certain projects. And while it may seem easy, being able to pose well is also very important for parts models and is more complex than you might think. Especially for hand modeling, you must be able to hold things or wear products and angle your hands in flattering ways while being able to show off whatever product you have been assigned.

Art Modeling

Art models typically pose for artists such as painters, sculptors, and photographers. Sometimes they pose for individual artists, but they often also pose for students in art classes or group art sessions. When it comes to posing for mediums other than photography, art models must be able to hold the same pose for very long periods. Strong posing skills are essential, as you may be asked to come up with creative positions that you don't typically see in other forms of modeling. Depending on the project, you may also have to come back for several days or weeks until the project is finished.

Unlike fashion or commercial modeling, art modeling has no height or size requirements. All body types are requested for art projects, so many models with difficulty finding bookings in the standard modeling market may succeed in the art world. One of the most significant differences in art modeling that is different from other types of modeling is that art models are often expected to pose semi-nude or fully nude, even in front of large groups of artists.

Promotional Modeling

Promo models are very similar to brand ambassadors or influencers, and are hired to represent a brand, product, or service at events. Their main job is to mix and mingle with potential customers to help sell/advertise products. Sometimes they are hired to be attractive and outgoing event or party attendees. Typically, models create brand/product awareness by taking photos with event attendees, providing basic brand/product information when asked, passing out marketing materials, and assisting with games or activities to attract potential customers. Promo models may also be used for TV appearances or interviews with celebrities or athletes at film or sports events.

While there aren't usually any height or size requirements to be considered for promo modeling, you do have to be outgoing and not afraid to engage with random people and talk about the company or brand you're representing. Many different types of events use promo models. Some are corporate events, while others are more of a party atmosphere, so what is required of you in terms of attire and your role can be vastly different. Sometimes, the client will require their models to wear bikinis, a costume, or even body paint, while other events may require you to wear business attire.

Boudoir Modeling

Boudoir is a type of glamor modeling that captures intimate and sometimes provocative images of a man and/or woman, often in a bedroom setting. Sometimes these images are used to sell lingerie or other intimate products, and sometimes for things like posters, calendars, magazines, or books. Boudoir models are often required to wear little to no clothing and have a provocative style of posing. The boudoir realm is a very body-positive industry, and there are no requirements to be a boudoir model.


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