Commercial Vs. High Fashion Modelling | What’s the Difference?

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With all the buzz around modelling, it’s natural to feel confused about which genre you actually fit into. So with the help of our in-house modelling consultant Saphira Tuffery, we picked apart two of the main types of modelling to shed some light on the standard procedures and requirements that differentiate them.


Let’s start with the basics… Am I tall enough?

High fashion modelling is the most competitive of all categories and has strict physical requirements. The minimum height for runway is 5 foot 9 for girls and 5 foot 11 for guys.

Commercial modelling has no height restrictions. Commercial agencies sign models based on the type of work they receive. So the most important thing for a commercial model isn’t that they are tall and lean but that they are relatable to the client’s target audience.

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Is it all about winning the genetic lottery?

As commercial agencies cater to a wide range of clients, they generally incorporate a diverse array of models on their books. Having said that, most commercial models still fit the ‘girl/guy next door look’ – beautiful smile, healthy skin, proportionate body and an approachable nature.

High fashion models on the other hand are renowned for their unique and almost alien-like look. With those signature large eyes, gap toothed smile, good jaw line and high cheek bones. The more interesting and jaw dropping-ly different you look, the more high fashion agencies will go weak at the knees for you.

Here at TPS, we’re lusting over Melissa Juratowitch, she has that killer editorial look.


Where can I make the most money?

When picturing the dollar bills piling up, you may be surprised to hear that commercial modelling comes out as our winner.

Commercial models are required by large companies to sell anything from toothpaste and cosmetics to the latest family car. These companies have big budgets and a huge international reach. This means that depending on usage, commercial models can get paid multiple times for a single job.

High fashion models can land high brow campaigns for some of the most influential designers in the world, but unless you’re Cara Delevigne then these gigs come with less frequency and lower budgets. Most of the work for high fashion models floods in bi-annually on the international fashion week circuit.

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How about long term career progression?

High fashion modelling has a short life span. If you think you fit the mould of a fashion model, then it’s recommended you start out young.

“Casting directors start looking for girls as young as 14”, says Saphira, “with the intent to start booking professional campaigns by 15. When I was modelling in Hong Kong, I lived and worked with girls as young as 13. As a rule of thumb; fashion models generally reach the end of their career at 24-26 years old. That’s why so many high fashion models like myself end up working in commercial modelling when they get to the end of their high fashion life span.”

With commercial modelling being that little bit more versatile, you are able to outlive an editorial model’s career span. Job requirements vary depending on the type of work available. You can be a young girl or a retiree – your age will not dictate your ability to model commercially.

The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; Erin Collett, Kat Hubner

How can I improve my chances of getting signed?

Saphira’s top tip for all aspiring high fashion models is to “work your walk”. It’s vital that you can strut your stuff as well as pose in front of the lens if you’re going to make it in the editorial world. Practice in heels whenever and wherever you can because if you can master a signature walk that’s unique to you then that’s a big plus!

If you’re looking to go down the commercial route, it’s vital to “perfect that smile”. As you wont need to give your sassy attitude in a high fashion shoot, you will most likely be selling something with your likeability. Nothing’s more likeable than the perfect smile!

The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; Jake Farra; Kirsten Tsoltoudis
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It’s not all black and white

It’s important to know that you can appeal to both categories. “Some high fashion girls are REALLY high fashion with an odd, appealing look and an unbelievable height.” Says Saphira.  “These models would never be able to fit into the commercial category. Other high fashion models will get to the end of their career and move seamlessly into commercial modelling.”

You gorgeous girls will be booked on a creative director’s vision and how you fit into that. While the information in this article is common place within the modelling industry, there are many brands and individuals who are tearing through old stereotypes and aiming to alter requirements within these categories.

So work hard, be the best model you can be and go get ‘em!

The Photo Studio; Fashion; James Broadhurst; Hanis Alias



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