How to Find the Right Models For Your Fashion Brand

May 8, 2017 by Lina Vashurina, Ecwid Team
How to Find Models For Your Fashion Brand
Posted May 8, 2017 by Lina Vashurina, Ecwid Team

Ever considered hiring models for your fashion store? Now might be the time to do so.

The reason: In comparison to standalone product photos or display mannequins, images that include models (that look like your target demographic) provide some important context and visual information within the fashion niche that you simply can’t achieve any other way.

And research proves that this is effective: Data from eye-tracking studies shows that people are drawn to faces when looking at screens–and you want your products to get as much attention as possible.

Hiring models can be much more affordable than you might think, too: Working with amateur models, you can still keep costs low while still creating powerful images that drive sales for your store.

In this post, we’ll explore your options for models, how to find the right ones to represent your brand, and some options for shooting these new photos to add to your fashion store.

You Don’t Have to Use the Traditional “Model” Anymore

Before you start your search, let’s take a moment to talk about models. Traditionally, many people have thought of models as tall, rail skinny people with high cheekbones and perfect abs.

But is this an accurate representation of the average person who shops at your fashion store? In most cases, the answer is probably no. Your customers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors–and it’s important to remember this as you look for the models that will represent your brand.

Other fashion stores have taken this approach with fantastic results. ModCloth actually pulls from its customer base when hiring models, which has resulted in more inclusive marketing materials and product photos. Shoppers see themselves in the models this fashion retailer uses.

Modcloth

Other retailers like Aerie have taken a similar approach: They tout that their model images are untouched (as in, not Photoshopped) and appear as they really are. This presents a powerful marketing opportunity for the brand and a way to build trust and respect with their customer base.

Aerie

Diverse models who accurately represent your average customer make for stronger, more effective photos for your store. As you begin your quest to find the right models, remember to think beyond the traditional model perception.

Brands Getting on Board With Different Types of Models

Many brands are coming to realize that different types of models can be valuable assets to their brand, company mission, and in a way–public perception.

For example: Lane Bryant showcases women outside the size 0 realm in its ads for women’s clothing. Their campaign “Plus Is Equal” pivots on women with curves and how great they look in the brand’s clothing offerings.

Lane Bryant

In another example, fashion retailer BetaBrand created an ad campaign back in 2014 that featured only women with a Ph.D. to dispel the myth that models have to choose between brains and beauty. Today, they still use a variety of models in all shapes and sizes to reinforce their dedication to accurately representing their core audience.

BetaBrand

And men aren’t excluded from these efforts, either.

Target is now working with male models for their “Big and Tall” collection to more accurately represent a sector of their shoppers in their product photos. Zach Miko is deemed a “plus size male model” who is proud to be the face of Target’s new efforts here–and he’s excited to be on the precipice of a new era in which shoppers see different looks in ads and product photos.

Zach Miko

Finding the Right Type of Model for Your Brand

Now let’s talk about what’s right for you and your brand.

We’ve discussed the importance of accurately representing your target demographic, but let’s take a bit of a deeper dive here to help pinpoint which models are going to be the best for your fashion store.

Demographic specifics

Take time to identify the specifics you’re looking for in a model. It’s not enough to say females between ages 16-25. Spell it out more by indicating:

  • What ethnicities would you like to see represented
  • Height specifications (Ex: If you’re selling petite clothing, you’ll want models in the 5”0-5”4 range)
  • Features: Models have different types of looks and faces. Describe the type of look you’re searching for such as “ethereal” or “edgy” as it relates to your lifestyle branding. Most of the time, you can play up this look with makeup and styling, as a Russian brand USTA K USTAM does.

USTA K USTAM

Availability

It’s important to ensure your models can work with your shooting schedule so you can ensure consistency. Also find out whether or not they’d be available for future work, in case you want to use the same model(s) in more photos down the road (Ex: Spring, summer, winter shoots.)

Personality

Confidence shows in photos–and so does a lack of it. Be sure your models are comfortable in front of the camera and have a bit of experience posing to be sure you get outstanding usable images.

Once you’ve defined what you’re looking for, it’s time to kick of the actual search.

Ways to Hire Your Models

You have several different options that will get your model search started. Choose one based on your needs, budget, and goals.

Agencies or websites

If you’re not interested in working with anything less than top model talent, you can use different agencies or websites to start looking for professional models to hire.

Keep in mind that this will be the most costly route, as many of these models book this type of work on a regular basis. You can expect to spend anywhere from $65-200 per hour plus traveling expenses and agency booking fees. Keep in mind that this excludes any photography and/or shoot-related expenses.

Model agencies

Outsource

If you’re not comfortable finding and shooting model photos on your own, you can completely outsource it to a company like Shootright Studios that specializes in on-model fashion photography. You send the products, and they find the right models based on your specifications and shoot the images for you. This can still be costly, but you can expect to spend less than $2,500 total according to their website.

Shootright Studios

Local amateurs

Most of the time, you can find local amateur models who are much more affordable, as they are just getting started and may not be working professionally yet.

A quick local Google search can point you in the right direction, or you can ask around to other nearby fashion retailers and see how they found their models.

You can also look for local fashion bloggers via a site like Lookbook.nu to see if they’d be interested in partnering with you. This is a more cost-effective option, as these models are still building a portfolio of work or are non-professionals who simply enjoy fashion.

Lookbooknu

Social media

Another option is to pull from your social media reach and to put together a casting call for models.

Instagram is a great option for this, and by creating a custom hashtag for your search, you can easily browse through entries to find the models that are the perfect fit for your brand.

Bonus: This can also send some organic traffic your way, as followers see their friends entering the contest and posting their submissions within the activity feed.

Modcloth uses #ScoutMeMC for submissions–and has created an entire account dedicated to the models they’ve hired through Instagram.

Modcloth Instagram

Hiring a friend

If you have a friend that fits the look of your target demographic, see if they’d be willing to work with you as a model for a day or two.

You can pay them in free products, photos to include in a portfolio, or a rate that the two of you agree upon. With the existing connection, working with friends can be a good option because you feel comfortable around each other–both behind and in front of the camera.

This is often by far the cheapest, most cost-effective option model-wise.

Hiring a friend

Once you’ve decided which option is best for your budget and photo needs, the next part to think about is the photography and shoot-related costs.

Shooting Model Photos

A talented photographer can be even more important than a professional model. You have a few routes to consider when it comes to the actual photography phase of working with your models.

DIY route

Taking your own photos is a cost-effective path, but will require some up-front investment if you don’t already own the necessary equipment. At a basic level, you’ll need a camera–and if you’re looking to keep expenses low, stop there. You can even use your smartphone if it takes high-resolution images.

If you want to get more advanced, you might purchase some lighting equipment as well–but only if you know how to use it. Otherwise, it’ll be a wasted purchase. Here’s a quick photo lighting 101.

Basic tips for taking great model photos:

  • Use natural light on a sunny day whenever possible
  • Take many photos, and only use the best ones
  • Have your model in a wide variety of poses

For example, Allure decided to photograph models only using an iPhone–and the results were good.

Allure

Hire it out

If you’re not comfortable behind the camera, consider hiring a beginner or more established photographer who can shoot and edit your photos. It’ll save you time and energy, but is more costly.

You can find photographers for hire by searching locally, using a freelance platform, or by finding out who similar brands used for their photos.

For example, Pursuit decided to hire out a photographer to shoot their clothing on models.

Pursuit

You can achieve impressive results with either option, but the one that’s best for you will depend on your budget.

Use Models, Create Great Photos

Regardless of who you select as models for your brand and if you have them professionally photographed or not, adding this human element into your product photography is a wise move. Your customers will be better able to judge how your items will look in person, and they’ll spend less time second-guessing a purchase.

Get more photography tips:

About The Author
Lina is a content creator at Ecwid. She writes to inspire and educate readers on all things commerce. She loves to travel and runs marathons.

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