The Business: The Modeling Cycle

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by Emma Leuman, Fashion Writer

The modeling world is in a state of constant evolution. With new faces appearing on the runway and in ad campaigns nearly every season, our culture has become fascinated with idolizing the latest “it girl” of the moment and tracking her progress in the industry. These doe-eyed beauties cover billboards, appear in mainstream commercials and are often featured in a variety of fashion magazine across the globe. They exude an effortlessness not only with their beauty, but with their astonishing success in their careers – making it easy for one to believe that their work is as easy as “smiling for the camera.”

Yet from a model’s perspective, it can be difficult to get used to the business as things don’t stay the same for long.  Their meteoric rise to fame is ultimately accompanied by a forced yet significant change in career strategy – pushing models off of the catwalk and into the commercial realm.

As a model, one typically starts out at a young age and, if lucky, in high fashion.  They will be plucked from the streets and traipsed around from agency to agency until they are signed.  If the model is a particularly promising prospect, the agency will be able to schedule her castings with big-name designers who will hopefully book her.  A callback at Chanel can mean a lifetime of success for an incoming model.

Karlie Kloss opening Carolina Herrera 2008
Karlie Kloss opening for Carolina Herrera’s Fall 2008 fashion show.

Take Karlie Kloss for example. The 6’1″ stunner who has been everywhere for the past four years.  After closing for Marc Jacobs and opening for Carolina Herrera in 2008 in addition to walking in 29 other shows that season, she started to break into the industry.  Then, after appearing in spread after spread of Vogue, people began to recognize her face.

Now signed with IMG Models, Kloss’s career is continuing to surpass everyone’s expectations.  She has an ongoing contract with Christian Dior and she has appeared in ads for Donna Karan, Lacoste and Lanvin.

Interestingly enough, Kloss also appeared in the 2013-2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, a move that has provided substantial success for models like Miranda Kerr, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum.  This move into commercial territory allows Kloss to take on a “girl-next-door” reputation which increases her salary and her likability among consumers as well.

Additionally, by swinging open the commercial door Kloss is able to venture into more lucrative territory.  Potentially, one could expect beauty campaigns, television opportunities and more to be next for the leggy brunette.

This endless cycle of models entering the high fashion world only to desert it for the more profitable world of commercial interests is nothing new, and will most likely continue to exist for as long as women walk the catwalk.  The fashion world, especially the high fashion side, loves a new face while the commercial side wants someone who already has a following who can bring more fans to their brand.

Karlie Kloss’s 786,000 Instagram followers would agree that this new foray into commercial territory could be great for her. Yet one has to wonder, does the commercial realm of modeling have an expiration date just like it’s high-fashion counterpart? Time will tell, but for now we’ll stay tuned with Kloss’s career and watch for the rising “it girls” trying to break their way into the modeling cycle.

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