Model Casting 101: A How-To for Startup Fashion Designers

Model Casting 101: A How-To Startup Fashion Designers | MakersValley Blog
Pricila Jaime

Pricila Jaime

Way to go! You finally got your clothing product samples in-hand and have an idea for a pre-order photoshoot. Now begins the quest for models who suit your brand. When you start looking for models to cast for your brand there are a few things and places to keep in mind. Use this blog as your easy go-to guide for how, where, and how to budget for hiring product models for your fashion photo shoots. Whether you’ve got a large budget for models or are looking for more affordable options, we’ve got you covered here.

What to Look For When Model Casting

Diverse models posing for the camera

Before you start casting models for your brand's photoshoot, ask yourself how you’d like your brand to be perceived. Inclusivity and diversity are becoming standards in the fashion world. Casting different body types and skin tones will appeal to your customers, for they’ll be happy to see people that look like them, and to see close representations of how they might look wearing or carrying your products. It’s also important that the models you cast hold the same values as your brands and customers. Your brand has ethics and morals, likely those you share as the brand owner. If your model displays the complete opposite of these values online, it would be a huge contradiction and could potentially lead to displeased customers.

Lastly, keep your ideal customer in mind when casting models. If you're only selling women's clothing, you wouldn't want a male dominated photoshoot. If you're selling surf wear, ideally you'd like your models to be sun-kissed. These are important details to remember when selecting models for a photoshoot. 

How to Book Talent Through Modeling Agencies 

agency model on set at photo shoot

Going through a modeling agency is the traditional method of casting models for your project. To book a model through an agency, first write down a list of agencies that you’d like to work with. You can find agencies in your area with a quick Google search. Agencies typically list models on their websites along with their measurements. Once you have your list together, email the agencies you’ve selected a pitch with your introduction, a description of the kinds of models you’re seeking, your idea for the photoshoot, and a mood board for reference. 

Agency models are professionals. The average model rates range anywhere between $50-$250 per hour plus a 20% agency fee. Most agencies will not release how much it costs to work with their model unless you contact them personally. Agency rates vary depending on the model, location, and state of the market. Keep this in mind when budgeting for your brand's photoshoot. 

Scouting Instagram For Models

iPhone with Instagram logo on screen

Instagram works well for scouting models because their profiles display their skillset. Instagram is one of the fastest ways to find models in your area. You can easily search local models by using hashtags like #houstonmodels, #dallasmodels, #austinmodels, etc. for instant results.  Depending on your location, the price of your model could be more budget-friendly, but freelance models on the platform oftentimes still charge a booking fee. 

Go To Fashion Events And Network

Networking is one of the most powerful tools in any industry. Going to fashion events and talking to everyone is another way to find models. You never know who you will run into or who someone could put you in contact with. 

Ask Friends To Model For You

fashion designer photographing modelWe recommend this approach for those who want a more cost-friendly photoshoot. Of course, you should still be particular about which friends you choose. Make sure they fit your brand's values, product category, and customer profile. 

This option may offer you more fun and flexibility, but make sure you still maintain professionalism between you and the friends you book. After all, these pictures often determine whether or not potential customers become actual customers. 

Scout the Streets for Talent

You can look for models to cast in your city when you go out to dinner, for a walk, or to a casual event. Typically, this is another more budget-friendly option for emerging designers. It can also lend your shoot a real-person feel and give you more diversity in casting options. Vetting your potential model should be one of your first priorities for the safety of yourself, your staff, and your brand. You can do this by doing a run through social media accounts and/or running a background check online. 

The Importance of Fashion Models

Models walking the runway

The models you select for your product shoots will become part of the face of your fashion brand. There is a reason why models like Kendall Jenner receive $21,000 per hour. Picking the right or wrong model can be a make-or-break situation for your brand. Remember – one of the most important factors impacting your decision to cast or not cast talent should be whether or not your models possess the same values as your fashion brand. They are a part of the marketing process and they should be as carefully curated as the rest of your project. 

 
Camera set up for a photoshoot with woman

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