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27-11-2007
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Commercial Modeling Versus High Fashion Modeling
There was a time when any model that had hopes of making it as an editorial/runway model knew that commercial/catalog modeling was a big mistake for their careeer. Most high end photographers would not use any model that had such a background and agencies warned their models about accepting such assignments and sometimes they were forbidden to do so. Now even top models are seen doing catalog work for top department stores.
It's their bread and butter money and it keeps the afloat during lean times.

A lot has changed in the modeling industry and commercial modeling is more acceptable now. In fact there's a chance that most models can make a hell of a lot more doing commercial work than they ever did doing runway or editorial.

Any opinions or insights on this topic?

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27-11-2007
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i think that this time you are referring to, when agents and photographers wouldn't touch a girl who was seen as being "too commercial" was a direct reaction to the era of the Supermodels in which the top fashion models (Christy, Linda, Naomi, Cindy, Stephanie, Claudia) were also doing ads for Coke, Revlon, Pepsi, Sports Illustrated, among MANY other less "high fashion" enterprises, not to mention numerous music videos, films, tv shows, etc. They were also undoubtedly the most famous models to ever grace the industry. Pop stars in their own rights.

So naturally, the aftermath would be the anti-Supermodel. The nameless faces who look down from elitist brand advertisements, yet are unknown to the public, lending a truly "exclusive" appeal to the brands. also, with a beauty that is usually described as "unique" or somehow incomprehensible to the masses. Obviously to see Stella Tennant, Shalom Harlow, Amber Valetta, Kate Moss, Jodie Kidd, etc in some lingerie outfit or in a sports magazine's Swimsuit issue .. well it would be absurd. Agents would have none of it. But every movement needs a star or two, so naturally a few of these girls became recognizable names (though mostly from who they dated).

At the same time, there was still obviously a desire for the commercial girls, and so these were the models who became SuperFamous models and whom the general public would refer to as the "Supermodels" --- Tyra Banks, Laetitia Casta, Rebecca Romijn, Heidi Klum, etc. the duality of the fashion world had reached it's climax. One would NEVER see Heidi Klum advertising for Valentino or appearing in a Haute Couture show ... yet they'd see her on GQ (more times than any other woman, I might add), and on the SI Swimsuit Issue, and in Victoria's Secret .. as well as TV shows, etc.

Then came Gisele.

She somehow managed to superimpose herself into both the high fashion world and the commercial. Nailing nearly every conceivable fashion campaign possible as well as the biggest VS contract, and further contracts with such purely commercial companies as Nivea, Pantene Pro V, Apple, American Express, and a host of barely recognizable fashion companies from every corner of the globe. She is the modern Supermodel. The formula that others would try and mold themselves after. She earned more money last year alone than some of the most successful high fashion models earn in their entire careers, yet she has lost none of her "haute couture appeal". She's still raking in millions of dollars worth of endorsements from the most exclusive fashion houses.

However, she seems to be the exception to the rule. During the Gisele-Era, there have been plenty of high-impact high fashion girls (Daria, Natalia Vodianova, Carmen Kass, Gemma, etc) who've barely made a blip on the general publics awareness screen. And there have been some commercial models who've been successful (Adriana Lima, Petra Nemcova, Marisa Miller, Alessandra Ambrosio) who have very little high fashion experience and who are still not nearly as famous as their commercial model predecessors. (This is because celebrities are taking their place - see Beyonce on the cover of last year's SI Swimsuit Issue). The only model who comes close to following Gisele's formula is Karolina Kurkova and she hasn't been remotely as successful.

SO --- The Future?

Doutzen? Can she be the next Gisele? Will there be a whole troop of girls, like there were in the late-80s into the mid-90s? Or is there only ever room now for 1 super mega model? A modelling conglomerate personal corporation? (*EEEE!!*)

Time will tell.

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29-11-2007
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riiiiiiiiiiiight....

so i see that i'm the only person who has responded. . . though i know that i'm not the only one with an opinion on this... but i think it's terribly misleading to have been put in "careers and education". this belongs in the "ETC's of Modelling" thread. then more people will see it and respond.

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29-11-2007
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Well if it's any consolation, I think that was a great post. Well thought out and well-written Perhaps this isn't the best section to place this thread in? Though I don't think it's out of place here, it might do better in the ETCs sub-forum as happycanadian suggested, especially since the topic of high fashion vs. commercial comes up a lot in the Models Whose Appeal You Don't Get thread.

Anyway, I think you may very well be on to something happycanadian particularly with the whole anti-supermodel movement and the way in which models today seem to be able to achieve top status in either the high fashion or commercial arena but not both. Karolina is an interesting case. Unlike models such as Adriana, Alessandra, etc. she was very successful in the high fashion area, landing coveted campaigns, magazine covers, etc. Now she's doing quite well in the commercial arena, but unlike Gisele who would still land major high fashion campaigns despite her VS contract, KK kind of just faded from the high fashion scene. Not completely no, as you do still see her landing covers of international Vogues from time to time and she was in that Louis Vuitton show recently, but she didn't quite achieve what Gisele did. Whether or not this was a personal choice on her part, I don't know of course, but it does make you think that for a variety of reasons, straddling both the high fashion and commercial scene is a difficult task. Something's gotta give.

Now as for Doutzen. Well there was a brief time when I thought there might be some slim chance for her to become the next Gisele, but something tells me, she will actually end up following Karolina's path more. I just don't foresee her being successful in both spheres at the same time. As you said though, time will tell.

Now, more in response to model_mom's post -- I find it interesting that even within the catalog scene I find myself sort of "ranking" catalogs on a high fashion <---> commercial spectrum. Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue all strike me as quality catalogs with good, and even artistic photo spreads. Bergdorf and NM (I can't remember if Saks does this) even include articles, like real magazines, that I personally enjoy reading. Thus, these catalogs strike me as more on the high fashion side of the spectrum than a catalog like Bloomingdale's or even Barneys (which sort of surprises me -- I would've expected more from a store like that ) which tend to have plain photography. Actually I should clarify something about my opinion of Neiman Marcus catalogs. My above statement is applicable to "The Book" catalog, not the smaller catalogs, which are more like Bloomingdale's catalogs to me.

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29-11-2007
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This topic would work well in either forum. I like it here, because this is where aspiring and new models can come to learn about the business end of this issue. This topic is right on the mark for that... it's about the business of different types of modeling.

I think that it would be good to start a simliar thread there, too, if you'd like. I think that the business information, that MM likes to share here, would get lost in there. I'm sure the fans will take it in an entirely different direction ... probably by naming all the various models and what type of work they do and those who crossover. Good information that they'd love to talk about but it's not where we will take this particular thread.

You are on to something, Original. There is a huge range within the fashion modeling world as to what the client needs as you describe. And we do tend to think of certain companies catalogs as more or less "commercial" or "fashion".

I have found that everybody's interpretation of the actual words ..."high fashion" and "commercial' varies a lot. It's difficult to actually get a consensus among any group of fashion pros as to what each word means.

If you want to get technical and precise ... high fashion is English for haute couture and that refers to only the top end, one of a kind fashion and nothing else. And commercial often refers to catalog and fashion advertising work, but it also refers to only non fashion modeling, too ... depending on who you are in the industry. So semantics usually creates a disconect among us and we have to be careful to clearly define our viewpoint when discussint this particular topic (as MM has).

Just to point out a different meaning ... Generally, if you talk to the agencies, their fashion division includes runway, editorial and catalog models. "Fashion" models work to sell clothing ... anywhere from "commercial" looking catalogs to high end runway and editorial work. If they have a commercial division, it usually books models that are not right for fashion (too short, too old, too much like regular people) and actors. Commercial models are models that sell anything else except clothing and therefore the standards are really different for them. Take the Pine Sol lady or they people in medicine, car. cell phone and cereal ads and commercials (even Ronald MacDonald) ... they are all commercial models. Of course, there is always some overlap ... a model may be repped in both divisions, and if a commercial client (like a car company) wants a runway model ... that's what they will get, even if it is a commercial gig advertising a car.

However, what MM is talking about is all fashion, but when she's saying "Commercial" she means the less flashy work of doing catalogs and ads ... as opposed to the flashier runway/ editorial and campaign work.

And I agree ... it's the catalog and single ad (as opposed to big campaigns) work that pays the bills day to day and often these models make a lot more than their edgy, runway model counterparts ... because they work consistently. So it would make sense to do these gigs and not expect to rely on those very ellusive presteige gigs. There are very few who make it exclusively in runway and editorial ... just doesn't pay enough. The ideal is to have the right look to be able to do both. And it is being done more and more nowadays.

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Last edited by BetteT; 29-11-2007 at 02:22 PM.
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30-11-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetteT View Post
This topic would work well in either forum. I like it here, because this is where aspiring and new models can come to learn about the business end of this issue. This topic is right on the mark for that... it's about the business of different types of modeling.

I think that it would be good to start a simliar thread there, too, if you'd like. I think that the business information, that MM likes to share here, would get lost in there. I'm sure the fans will take it in an entirely different direction ... probably by naming all the various models and what type of work they do and those who crossover. Good information that they'd love to talk about but it's not where we will take this particular thread.
Good point Plus I just did a search over in the ETCs actually, and there is a thread on the subject though it hasn't been touched in over a year and doesn't have very many replies. Perhaps it needs a little revival

Anyway! on to the rest of your post

Quote:
I have found that everybody's interpretation of the actual words ..."high fashion" and "commercial' varies a lot. It's difficult to actually get a consensus among any group of fashion pros as to what each word means.
Thanks for pointing this out! I find that I can't even come up with a clear definition of either term without being too literal or too vague -- either way, unsuccessful pretty much. There's also a lot of stuff that to me seems to fall into an in-between category. You know -- it's not Prada but it's not Victoria's Secret either.

Quote:
And I agree ... it's the catalog and single ad (as opposed to big campaigns) work that pays the bills day to day and often these models make a lot more than their edgy, runway model counterparts ... because they work consistently. So it would make sense to do these gigs and not expect to rely on those very ellusive presteige gigs. There are very few who make it exclusively in runway and editorial ... just doesn't pay enough. The ideal is to have the right look to be able to do both. And it is being done more and more nowadays.
What do you think has prompted the change that M_M mentioned? Why is it much more acceptable today for models to do some of that more commercial stuff? Is it just a matter of facing the fact that waiting for that prestigious gig isn't exactly realistic? Or do you think something else changed as well to make commercial catalog work more acceptable?

Also, is it appropriate to bring up the topic of Korean brand ad campaigns in here? I don't know if it's always been this way (perhaps someone with more knowledge can clarify the matter) but it seems more and more models are doing Korean brands as another way of making money. I've never really considered these brands particularly "high fashion" -- though I don't want to take anything away from them -- so maybe this too is relevant to this discussion?

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23-03-2008
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I think one of the biggest reasons most agencies are letting their models do commercial work is that a lot of the campaigns are using star power instead of models. Your not going to catch a major star doing top end catalog work so who fills in and brings in a very nice percentage of their paycheck back to the agency but their models. It's also a nice way for a model to have money in their pocket during the lean times.

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15-08-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happycanadian View Post
Then came Gisele.
Great post, happycanadian! You are 2000% right that Gisele changed the game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by happycanadian View Post
SO --- The Future?

Doutzen? Can she be the next Gisele? Time will tell.
I think since this great post we have seen others like Adriana Lima enter this space. As far as the next Gisele, my money is on Maryna Linchuk


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15-08-2009
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What is a rough estimate / range of how much a new model or up and coming model*, gets paid for the following type of work?

Mass market catalogs like Newport News or MetroStyle:

Luxury catalogs like Neiman Marcus, Saks, Holt Renfrew or Bloomingdales:

Hip Catalogs like J. Crew, H&M or Mango:

Newspaper ads like Macy's, Kohl's or Target:

Event campaigns like Guess, Gap or Abercrombie & Fitch:

Event catalogs like J. Crew and Victoria Secret Catalog (not the big names):

I know that my categorization may not be perfect, fell free to adapt / modify my list. Thanks.
-----------------

*For the sake of clarity, let's say a model that has not cracked the Top 20 on the Models.com list, note she does not have to be ranked at all

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15-08-2009
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Agreed 100% on Maryna, agee. I know that men and women both would find Maryna "hot" in a non-fashion kind of way, thus being appealing outside of HF.

My friends had told me to consider commercial modeling since it's more in demand than HF. HF pays more, but jobs are easier (?) to land than HF if you're in commercial modeling. Is that correct? Can someone confirm please?

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15-08-2009
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High fashion doesn't pay much unless you are the girl in demand for the shows or are lucky enough to land campaigns.....steady commercial/catalog work pays big bucks. Why do you think many of today's models choose to do this sort of work while they are waiting for their "Big Break"?.... and their agencies love their cut.

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10-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by model_mom View Post
High fashion doesn't pay much unless you are the girl in demand for the shows or are lucky enough to land campaigns.....steady commercial/catalog work pays big bucks. Why do you think many of today's models choose to do this sort of work while they are waiting for their "Big Break"?.... and their agencies love their cut.

I agree with this. If you are a Supermodel, high fashion pays well, but if you aren't well known, it's very hard to get top gigs.

Commercial has become more common. Historically, I think that more "classically pretty" people tended to do commercial modeling. Is that true?

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10-11-2009
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^^Same here. I always assumed commercial models were "traditionally" pretty.

More models are taking the commercial route and it's not frowned upon as much. The supermodels era are over and actresses are the supermodels of today and like someone mentioned before high fashion is very difficult to crack into when you're not a big star. It's very common to see models doing both commercial and high fashion work now.

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16-11-2009
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I think that there was always a high fashion-commercial cross over, big commercial models like Christy Brinkley and model-turn-actresses have spoken of working in Paris and high fashion models like Janice Dickinson and Linda Evangelista have gotten commercial gigs. High fashion by its very nature had always been elite, but I don't think that it tried to presents itself as this mysterious, unattainable entity until the post super-model era. I think that the designers wanted the emphasis back on the clothes, and that is when they started to favor models whose personal charisma would not overshadow the clothes and started favor bland models or models who were interesting but too unconventional to have mass appeal; while understandable, I think it had repercussions for the fashion industry.

The people who screwed themselves were the agencies, they stocked their boards with girls who suited the high fashion clientele despite the fact that a relatively small portion of high fashion jobs pay well. In the meantime the well-paying commercial clients increasingly started hiring actresses. So the trend of models swinging back and forth between high fashion and commercial gigs is not a new phenomenon, rather it is a return to a previous paradigm.

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19-11-2009
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thanks for the thread...didn't know it.

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