A lot of people ask me what life as a male model looks like and I realized that there is a huge difference between how it is perceived and the reality of everyday life in this industry.
I) Fashion Shows
Runway shows are probably the most overestimated aspect of this industry. During big shows in Paris, Milan and New York designers show their new collections and organize spectacular events to be seen by clients, bloggers and magazines all over the world.
The media-hype contributes to the general missconception that walking the runway was the main occupation for a model. In reality only a small group of models with a specific look qualify for certain designers which limits the number of potential jobs for each model.
There are many models who are working very succesfully making more money without doing any shows. In that sense they become a gateway to other jobs through the exposure of representing a well-known brand. This is why designers during fashion week don’t necessarily have to give models a financial incentive.
They walk to be seen.
Unfortunately no one can just survive on the exposure and the glory of fashion shows. Compared to commercial print jobs and campaigns, shows pay only a fraction not even considering the extra time and effort for castings and fittings during fashion week. What actually pays the bills is print-work: big ad-campaigns and very consistent shootings for catalogues and lookbooks. Especially for big clients like department stores these shootings don’t only happen twice a year like fashion shows but all year round every single day.
But even though the rate for one shooting day is usually a four-digit number that doesn’t mean that every model can afford the stereotypical “Bitches and Cocaine” Lifestyle. The expenses and fees that are deducted every month are extremely high. Depending on the market, agencies charge a 20-70% commision for each job, website-fees, flights, taxes, legal-fees and rent which in places like London or NYC can easily be over USD 1000 per month. As a result a lot of models work different side jobs simultaneously so they won’t have to depend on the uncertain paychecks from their agencies.
The extraordinarily glamorous and expensive lifestyle is not the only stereotype about the modeling industry that doesn’t live up to reality. Here are the four things that surprised me the most.
1) Models are not stupid
Especially since “Zoolander” came out, most people think that models can only look good. Ther are always exceptions but I have had some amazingly deep and inspiring conversations besides the general small-talk. A lot of friends I’ve made in this field are studying at the same time, run their own businesses and are eager to learn on their journey as a model.
2) Beauty is not perfect
I was surprised to see that some of the most succesful models walking the big shows for Prada, Saint Laurent or Louis Vuitton are not necessarily considered to be good-looking in real life. They have an edge, a brand, something that makes them unique and stick out. In that sense beauty becomes a vague concept that can not be generalized.
3) Models do eat
Coming from a Bodybuilding background where I was counting every single gram of fat I was really surprised when I first met other models who were eating Stone-Cold Ice Cream with chocolate-chips and peanut-butter. Especially girls who don’t need to be very strong or muscular surprised me a lot with their healthy appetite. Up to this day it is still a mistery to me.
4) Positivity and Love
The most pleasant surprise for me was definetely the positive energy that I get to experience almost every day at castings and jobs. Even though we are all competitors for the same jobs, nobody takes themselves too seriously and having a good time and fun still remains the number one priority.
During New York Fashion Week I took my video camera to capture some of that energy.
What I take away
No matter how glamorous this life actually is whether you like fashion or not and regardless of how much money you make, one thing is definetely true:
Modeling gave me the opportunity to travel, to be challenged, to be inspired by different people from all over the world which gave me a new perspective on life and made me realize who I am and what I want.
But modeling is not the only way to make these experiences. Exploring, embracing every opportunity, opening up to other people- all of that are active choices!
All of that is Universal and not limited to one industry.
Never Stop Exploring.