Fashion Industry Profile: Chapter 20. Fashion Auxiliary Services

My Presentation on Fashion Modeling

Preface: Out of all kinds of fashion auxiliary services, I picked up this specific topic because of the following reasons. Firstly, as I have been following BOF (The Business of Fashion), WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), and Vogue Runway everyday from the beginning of this semester, I notice that fashion models often appear in the news and remain in the spotlight. Secondly, I have always wanted to do some research on the fashion models, but didn’t have time. Last but not least, girls in my class must be interested in this topic🙂

The fashion models play a critical role in the big fashion picture, undoubtedly. There are a few other types of models such as fine art models and fitness models, but fashion models are particularly tailored to serve the fashion business. We can’t imagine a new fashion season without fashion models. We see fashion models on the runway, in the TV commercials and fashion magazines, on the billboards, at the promotional events of retail stores, on the social media platforms, and of course, in our textbooks at fashion schools.

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Although missing in the chart excerpted from our textbook The Dynamics of Fashion, I believe that it should be an indispensable supporting part to the fashion business. Fashion models constantly interact with, support, and enhance the primary, secondary and retail levels. They keep the existing consumers aware of the fashion merchandise produced for ultimate consumption, and attract potential consumers’ attention to make them interested in fashion.

Then, let’s start with its definition. What is fashion modeling? According to Wikipedia, model is a person with a role either to promote, display, or advertise commercial products (notably fashion clothing) or to serve as a visual aide for people who are creating works of art or to pose for photography. Fashion models are featured in a variety of media formats including: books, magazines, films, newspapers, internet and TV, sometimes in films, music videos, and reality TV shows (i.e. America’s Next Top Model, which was my favorite show.)

Indeed, fashion models can be seen EVERYWHERE in our life!

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Fashion modeling is not an easy career, at least not as easy as we outsiders think. To become a real model, they must come through a series of hard training. To walk for a world-class brand, they need to take the great pressure, both physically and psychologically. Supermodel Gigi Hadid reveals to the W magazine how to become a great walker (I love what she said in the end–“honestly, the world is your runway.”)

This world is competitive. According to Models.com, the models of the Top 50 have risen through the ranks and impressed designers, casting directors, photographers and more. Their combination of prestigious covers, choice campaign bookings and consistent blue-chip editorials sets them apart from their competitors. These beauties have proven themselves and are well positioned to graduate to one of the other major rankings and become future superstars.

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There are three trends I found interesting in the fashion modeling industry: Plus-size models, elderly models, and Asian models. As we know, brands are increasingly targeting at more specific niche markets in the fierce competition nowadays, appealing to a narrower range of demographics. These three trends of fashion models are a perfect reflection of the brand strategy.

Plus-size Modes

Plus-size model is an individual of average to larger stature (sometimes but not exclusively overweight or obese) who is engaged primarily in modeling plus-size clothing. Synonymous and interchangeable with plus-size model is “full-figured model”, “extended-sizes model”, and “outsize model.”

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In the above photo, the second from the left is the hottest plus-size model Ashley Graham. This 29-year-old plus-size top model wants to lift up more women to embrace their bodies, regardless of their so-called “imperfections.” She put it plainly during the shoot.

67 percent of the women in America wear a size 14 or larger. 67 percent. Maybe you could ignore those consumers before, but now, thanks to social media, they’re making their voices heard. Women are demanding that brands give them what they want. And what they want is to be visible.

Having more role models, more women who are like “Yeah, I have cellulite. Yeah, it’s even on my arms, not just my legs. My butt is a really bizarre shape but you know what, whatever, I’m just going to go rock it.” I think if we had more role models like that that, that were really just speaking their truth about their body and the skin that they’re in then maybe young America would be different.

While Vogue did receive backlash for the way Ashley’s posed on the cover—she is the only plus-size model and her hand happens to be covering her thigh—Ashley brushed away the notion on Instagram writing, “I chose to pose like that…no one told me to do anything.”

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I love her beautiful body, her candid attitude, and her confidence.

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In fact, not only Ashley, many other plus-size models appeared at 2017 New York Fashion Week, totally 27 times!

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There are also magazines and websites featuring plus-model industry.

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On the other hand, criticism towards plus-size models can also be heard.

Acceptance of plus-size models sets a poor health example of weight management.

Consumer-based criticism regarding the lower sizes of plus-size models is becoming commonplace and wide-spread. While the reputed ‘average’ dress size of an American women is size 14, the majority of models represented as plus-size are between a US size 6-12; therefore the models do not reflect the average consumer size.

Plus-size models engage in unhealthy habits such as eating salty foods to retain water weight and fluctuating size to please clients. Agents have suggested plastic surgery to some models.

Elderly Models

I am not sure how to name this category, so I just created the name by my own. One example of the trendy elderly models is Erni Stollberg.

Ernestine “Erni” Stollberg, 95-year-old Austrian model, is famous on Instagram. Over the last year or so, the street-cast model has become an Instagram sensation, due to her regular appearances on @park_wien for Vienna concept shop Park. She is famous not only because of her age, but also because of her chameleonic skill in front of the camera.

“If I put something very elegant on her, she immediately has an elegant pose,” explains Markus Strasser, Park’s co-owner and stylist. “If I put something trashy or something cool on her, her attitude changes immediately for that kind of look, and I almost don’t have to say anything.”

Her pictures on Instagram show her natural attitude and honest emotion.

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Another example is from China. Wang Deshun (王德顺), 80-year-old Chinese runway model, is called “China’s Hottest Grandpa or “Old Fresh Meat (老鲜肉).” After a 30-second, bare-chested runway appearance during China Fashion Week in 2015, he became an overnight internet sensation. He reshapes Chinese’s views on aging.

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Wang is an artist who survived the Cultural Revolution. He has a wife, two children, and one granddaughter. He was born in the northeastern city, Shenyang, in 1936. In 1982, the clothes in China were still very out of date. There was no color or style, and people wore black, white, gray or blue. Wang went to the biggest department store in the city and told the sales people to give him nicest clothes so he could organize a show. He wanted to start a sense for fashion among ordinary people at that time.

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22-year-old factory worker, 1958
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A “Living Sculpture” performance in 1994

After he became a viral sensation and sexy center of Fashion Week, he was covered a lot by the media.

But what impressed me most is this short video “Be the Fiercest.” He proves that age is not a barrier of your dream. “When it’s time to shine, be the brightest.”

Asian Models

There are actually a lot to cover in this category, but I just picked up the most popular one, Liu Wen.

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Liu Wen, a lady of many firsts: China’s first supermodel, the first model of East Asian descent to strut her stuff on the Victoria’s Secret Catwalk and the first Asian face of Estée Lauder. She also became the first Asian model to be ranked on Forbes’ list of highest-paid models in 2013. She raked in $4.3 million in 2013 and $7 million in 2014. She has done a number of campaigns for brands such as Massimo Dutti, H&M and MO & Co. She became the first Chinese model to ever appear on the front cover of American Vogue in 2017.

Check out her coverage by Vogue.com.

Her latest look on Met Gala 2017 is: a unique dress by Off-White with a sheer bodice complete with appliqued birds, and a berry-hued lipstick.

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Conclusion: Like the fashion industry, fashion modeling is also embracing many new forms. The three trends above are just a part of it. In this April, a UK-based Anti-Agency has launched in New York City to work with non-conventional models, eager to represent personalities deemed to strong for the roster of a classic modeling company. This new ‘anti’ fashion modeling agency debuts its stunning avant-garde stars of all sizes and backgrounds, from activists and poets to gender-bending fashion fans. We may expect that in the near future, fashion modeling industry will have more and more changes that we can’t really take our eyes off.


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