4 Reasons to Hire a Professional Fit Model

Beyond design, the fit of a garment is probably the most important element to consider in the product development process. I have worked with many different clients and different market segments, and sample sizes, and have to say that those who hire professional models have a better experience and often times faster time arriving at their final approved fit sample.

Clients provide their own fit models, according to their target market. Some clients opt to be their own fit model (not recommended in most cases!), or enlist a willing friend to help. However, there are four main reasons I recommend working with an agency and hiring a professional model. I asked my friend Bridget Halanski, Runway Director at MP Factor, to share some insight on working with an agency to book fit models.

In this post I talk mainly about female models, but agencies also represent male models, and even children. So no matter who your brand is designed for, you can benefit from working with a professional.

1. They know what to do.

Your model is a professional. She will arrive on time, prepared to work, and as a result, you will be more efficient.

Bridget shares that "these models are seasoned professionals who are extremely experienced with fit and showroom work—they know how to move/show the garments, give insight if asked, and act as live mannequins in sales meetings or presentations with buyers. They come looking polished with hair and makeup ready, and any shoe or wardrobe brings the client requests (including underpinnings and a neutral manicure and pedicure so not to distract from the clothing)."

This is their job, every day. They are used to getting dressed quickly, secure with their bodies, and aware of how they are standing and moving in order to show the garment properly, as well as comfortable being pinned for tailoring and revisions. It's standard to take quick snapshots or even short video to document the fittings, so even if you aren't sharing or publishing those images, it's helpful when the model has a fresh, clean look. Note: if you do plan to share any images, do check with your agent about usage guidelines, or if there is an additional fee for publishing on certain platforms, etc.

2. It's their job to maintain their size.

"Booking fit models with an agency is a seamless process. Primarily, their measurements and sizes specified in their online portfolio are accurate and current, unlike a freelance “model” or friend of the designer, that can fluctuate." Bridget notes.

Let me tell you, there's nothing more frustrating than making pattern and sample revisions, and finding out at the next fitting that the revisions need to be redone because the model's measurements changed. And if it's your friend, it makes for an awkward conversation when you need to bring that to their attention. Professional models need to maintain their size and physique to book jobs, so they remain consistent between fittings. On that note, it's also important that you work with the same model for each fitting, so there are no other variables to worry about when reviewing your prototypes.

3. You can "shop", and choose a model who best fits your brand's target market.

It's a common misconception that agencies only represent "one size" for models, that everyone is a typical runway sample size 2 or 4. There are a variety of models represented, including plus, petite, athletic build, even different age groups. You'll be able to tell your agent what sizing or measurement specs you are looking for. Bridget explains the process: "once you specify height, size or measurements and type (including age or ethnic preference), the agent sends you a customized link of online portfolios to choose from. You can then request to see them in person for a casting to measure them and get a feel for their personality, or you can book directly."

If this is your first time working with a professional model, or you are working on your first collection, setting up a casting call to meet several models before making your decision is a great idea. You may end up loving your fit model so much you decide to incorporate them into your product photography, meetings with buyers, or events that you participate in!

4. You will be more objective as you review the garments.

It's very hard to evaluate the overall look and fit of something you are wearing yourself, and be objective. We are our own worst critics! Does a sleeve look too tight, or are you just self conscious about your arms? If you use a friend, it might be hard to critique the garment without hurting your friend's feelings. Looking at the garment on a model who represents your market is best so you can evaluate the fit, see how the fabric behaves as it hangs on the body or moves while in motion.

Now you understand the benefits of hiring a professional model, and yes, it does come at a price. Fit models typically have a 2-hour minimum, though models can also be booked for half day or full day if needed. In addition to the model's rate, you will pay a standard 20% agency fee for their services, plus travel reimbursement if applicable. What's great about an agency though, is your model is accountable to more than just you. If you enlist a friend or book your own model off a social media site or list serve, and they don't show up, you get no model. With an agent involved, she will get in touch with the model to confirm the job, if the model is late or a no-show, you are likely to get a reduced rate or replacement model with similar measurements.

To book a job, you'll need to provide your standard contact and billing information, date/time and number of hours needed, location and parking information, any hair and makeup directive, and items to wear or bring (such as nude or seamless undergarments, black or nude heels, etc.).  Indicate your criteria for your model including bust, waist, hip measurements, dress size, approximate height/weight, and any preferences you may have as to age, ethnicity, body type.

I work closely with Factor|Chosen and Stewart Talent, where I am also represented as an On-Set Tailor. Many modeling or talent agencies will have a division where you can choose a model who will be the right fit for your brand. If you are interested in working with Factor|Chosen or Stewart Talent, please contact Bridget Halanski for more information on booking: [email protected]


6 Responses

  1. […] about. I've found especially in the cases where clients have appointed themselves as the fit model (more on why I don't recommend this), that they have a harder time being objective enough to say "this fits well" vs. continuing to […]
  2. I was glad to read that professional model are great to hire when you need to showcase your clothing. Models know what they are doing. They know how to position themselves to make the clothing look flattering and appealing to costumers. While hiring a model, you should make sure that they are willing to work quickly. With a lot of clothing to model, it does take time and should be done quickly to get the work done! Thank you for sharing this! I have a friend who is looking to hire a model and I will be sure to share this information with her.
  3. I like that you talked about how you can check for the portfolios of the list of the models in an agency so that you can personally choose who you think will best fit the requirements in your event. My sister is interested to open a bridal shop. It's important for her to find the right models that will showcase her custom-made bridal gowns because they can help the audience to visualize how the dress looks like when worn. I will make sure to share your blog with my sister so she can consider hiring models for her fashion show event soon.
  4. Thanks for explaining why it could be good to get a professional fit model. It's good to know that the models should be able to maintain their size and physique. I'm kind of interested to learn how models can do this, or if their techniques could differ depending on the person.
  5. Love this point of view about the value of fit models from Fashionista: https://fashionista.com/2018/06/fashion-fit-model-experience-megan-roup
  6. […] Bring something to reference for sizing specifications. Ideally, bring a garment, or two, in the sample size you want it to be made in so the pattern maker can reference it for sizing purposes. This is especially helpful if you have a specific body type or fit in mind. Remember, this is not intended to be used to copy the entire style, but rather to pull basic measurements from so we can start to build your block. We’ll also want your body measurements for your fit model. […]
  7. Great post! A professional fit model is worth every penny and when the synergy of Tech/patternmaker syncs up with the Fit Models dieback... its thing of beauty and the end product is a work of art. It takes a team of professionals like yourself make brands successful! Great work!
  8. It sure was nice when you said that it will be a good idea to set up a casting call to meet several models before making a decision. This is a helpful tip for fashion designers who want to showcase their collection to their target audiences with the help of models who could truly sell. I could imagine how your tips would allow a company to find a fashion executive search company that can present potential models based on their requirements.

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