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Here’s an article I wrote a little while ago about the current industry after some research I did on the sizes of models on high-end catwalks in larger markets.
Model’s Sample Size Issue
Don’t you find it interesting that in previous decades, i.e. before the 1990s, that the modeling industry adapted to the needs of the consumer from decade to decade?
Since the 90s and the waif-like model boom, many say originating from a very young Kate Moss, this tiny physique has stuck. Officials say it’s been long overdue for a change, with the average size of consumers getting bigger and bigger, and model’s sizes getting smaller and smaller. The sizing standards have created body image/ health issues among teens, young adults and the models themselves to get higher and higher.
It happened it the 90s to Tyra Banks whom was an extremely well paid, full-time model and a huge name on catwalks. With the rise of the very skinny physique, she started getting less and less work in high fashion, and resorted to having to change her direction to swimwear. In doing so built a successful career for herself. She achieved such things as becoming the first African-American model to make to front cover of Sports Illustrated and was also picked up around the same time by Victoria’s Secret, where she became an angel.
Still, there are signs of change. Now, there is size 12 models on even the best agency books around the world. Not many girls but at least two in each collective. Even a few whole agencies devoted to ‘plus’ size models. So there is a slow movement, though it will take a long time for there to be any drastic change. Fashion houses are still obsessed with ‘size 0’ models for runway. Measurements for size 0 are, Bust: 31-2”, Waist: 23.5-24.5”, Hips: 33-34.5. That’s seriously small! No young adult over 17 could possibly be that size without some form of unhealthy aid. Most young women/ girls would fit that up to age 15 max, but then our bodies start to change.
Designer Zac Posen spoke in a panel talk earlier this year (February), as part of the CFDA’s Health Initiative (Council of Fashion Designers of America) of the stresses on designers themselves. He explained that designers are under pressure to conform to the norms of the industry, and they often look to magazines to define the zeitgeist. “I am often challenged, you know, by what is cool. And that usually comes down to the image makers, and that usually comes down to the new youth of the time”, Posen stated, as it truly is an industry now, and especially in the past 5-10 years, surrounded by the central point of very, very young models. Girls of ages between 13 – 17 years are who are mainly used for runway.
In saying that though, it’s been said that all it takes is a really hot model and the designers are happy to completely remake an outfit for the runway (cut it bigger), just to have that model wear it for their show. This has been seen on many occasions with Dutch models in the international market, Lara Stone (size 4 US), Doutzen Kroes (size 4-6 US) and a few others. For these models to have a prosperous and full-time career for catwalk, it’s just plain fact, they would need to either gain the respect and love from all the high-end designers (an extremely hard feat considering the pressure on designers to uphold standards), or lose weight, otherwise they just won’t get the work. Lara is in high demand at the moment, and Doutzen gave up on runway to join forces with Victoria Secret, and also L’Oreal – big brands with little influence on the body image portrayed in magazines and on the runway.
A similar thing with Australian model Megan Gale who was told by most agents and clients in her own country, ‘you need to lose weight’. So she moved to Italy and marketed herself there, and became a superstar. They loved her curves.
So, in a way girls, it’s a matter of finding the right market, the right connection, and all at the same time. Difficult, but there are models that have done it.