[What up, y’all! Gotta cool new side hustle for you today if you like the fashion thing (or just making some killer money :)). My blogger friend Ashley Stetts gives us the scoop on production fit modeling – a much more lucrative way to model apparently! And open to both males and females, though this article is very much skewed female FYI… Let me know what you think!]
When most people think of modeling, they think of glamorous photoshoots on beautiful islands, jetsetting lifestyles and stick thin girls who eat ice chips for most meals.
Sure, that kind of modeling exists – and I’ve even graced a few magazine covers myself (see below) – but I was lucky to stumble upon the real money making job in the modeling industry: being a production fit model.
You see, the magazine covers were coveted gigs, but ones that only paid about $250 for the entire day. When you’re a production fit model, you make that per hour, and you don’t have to be stick thin or even beautiful to do it.
Yes, I Was a Model…
I started in the modeling world as most girls do – young, impressionable and eager to book any job no matter how much it paid. I was shooting for a lot of fitness magazines and catalogues here and there, but not making any sort of money that could actually support me.
In my early NYC days I supplemented my income waitressing in nightclubs. Actually, I didn’t supplement my income – waitressing was paying substantially more than my modeling career was! Here’s a clip I did with ABC News where I talk about this dark side of modeling:
You see, the super thin Amazonian height models that you see in magazines and on the runway are actually not so lucky. Their look is so specific and high fashion that they are confined to only the editorial magazine jobs that usually pay under $300 for the day and don’t come around very often.
These are the same girls who are living in model apartments with four other models and barely able to afford food (which I guess helps in this profession?). It’s a sad truth that many young models are brought to big cities like NYC with hope planted in them by agencies who turn around and charge them for everything from overpriced accommodations to fees for being featured on the website and hefty charges for advancing money that they are owed. It’s no wonder that all these models are broke – by the time all the fees and commissions (20%) are paid, there isn’t usually much left.
So you can see why I happily gave up the dream to ever be featured in Vogue, and settled into my healthy size 4 shape that didn’t require starving myself or a ton of rejection that comes from not being the desired “look” that’s currently trending (Punk? Big lips? Bushy eyebrows? No eyebrows??). With so much competition in the world of modeling, being able to do fit work was certainly a blessing for my wallet and my ego.
So What The Hell is Fit Modeling?
Fit models are like live mannequins for designers who have the proportions that match industry standards. For example, the industry standard for a size 4 is someone approximately 5’8″ with a bust measurement of 34, a waist measurement of 27 and a hip of 37.
If you have close to these measurements, have good posture and good shape, than you could be a candidate to be a fit model. Higher end brands generally fit on a size 4, but the mainstream brands tend to fit on a size 6 or 8, which is more of an average sized person.
A day at work entails going into the designer’s studio and trying on prototypes of their designs. You move around in the article of clothing and give feedback as to how it fits, and the garment is altered to fit your body properly.
The reason you are compensated so generously is because the designer’s entire line is built to YOUR body, so you become a valuable part of the design process. Your value also comes from the fact that you’re not able to fluctuate in weight or measurements at all. I repeat, you must stay the exact same size, always. I’ve lost jobs because I’ve gained a few pounds and couldn’t get them off fast enough – true story; and when you lose one of these clients, you lose big time money. You’re making anywhere from $150 – $250 an hour and usually fitting anywhere from 3 to 6 hours a week… you do the math.
So that’s the catch. You are paid very generously simply for having the right body, but you have to be hyper aware of staying the same size. You also have to be on your feet for hours at a time while people prod and pick at you with pins, but if you’re at all interested in fashion, that could be exciting for you.
It was always fun for me working with big name designers (I’ve worked directly with Diane Von Furstenberg* among others) and seeing their incredible creative minds and sometimes crazy personalities. It’s definitely not a glamorous job, and you may not be in magazines, but seeing clothes hanging in the store that were fit exactly to your body is always rewarding.
Are You The Right Fit?
Unfortunately you could only consider this as a job option if you live in a city that hosts design houses. I live in NYC, which is the mecca of fashion, and therefore the most lucrative place to be a fit model. There are also fit modeling gigs to be found in LA, and funny enough places like Columbus Ohio are home to brands like Abercrombie & Fitch who fit their clothes at the head office there.
After all of the struggles that I went through with modeling agencies, I recently launched my own boutique fit modeling agency here in NYC. If you think that you have the right measurements and can handle the pressure, check out StettsManagement.com to see the kinds of models I represent – maybe one day you’ll be up on the site and banking at this side gig too!
PS: Check out the other 50+ side hustles here: Side Hustle Series
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Funny thing about DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) – when I was living in NYC years ago I used to run into her allll the time and we used to exchange smiles as we both had the exact same color hair at the time (neon red). I never knew who she was until I was long gone though and Googled her one day when someone pointed out that my luggage was a chick’s, haha… I was quite surprised to learn who she was! (And I still rocked that baggage for years too ‘cuz it was stylish as $hit ;))