Due to the stringent age requirements of modeling, the turnover rate of models is often high since their career is essentially futile past a certain age. Modeling agencies know this and know how hard it is for a model to land a job lucrative enough to pay off their debt. Unfortunately, these models are new and young enough to be taken advantage of. If a model doesn’t find work within the first few months of his arrival in New York, his debt could add up to $8,000-$20,000.
Male model, Cameron Keesling, was working in the industry for about a year before landing the cover of Italian Vogue. Despite appearing in a renowned publication, photographed by the fashiin iconic photographer, Keesling and his model companions were paid nothing for the shoot.
And Vogue was not the only job that left him empty-handed. Keesling walked during Paris Fashion Week and left behind a stellar impression. His Parisian look achieved notoriety and even received an Instagram shout out from Snoop Dogg. Despite the accolades, Keesling didn’t even get paid enough to cover the cost of traveling to and from Paris.
Andrade, a former model, claims he made a lot more money in his side job of bartending than he did in modeling.
Keesling adds he is in debt all around the world. He and fellow male models often spend days doing over 20 castings and ultimately getting rejected from most. He has also had days where he sustained on no more than one power bar and a bottle of water.
After over a year of modeling and living in New York City, Keesling has not made a single penny.
Big ambitions and a low bank balance are just the beginning: Many models’ living situations involve 12 men sharing one apartment with two bathrooms. 0ne model’s Midtown apartment boasts a rent of $2000 and a collective size no bigger than a parking space.
- Male supermodel Alex Lundqvist
Trends in the modeling industry fluctuate, often dependent upon pop culture and fashion. Often, agencies are looking for a very specific look, thereby compartmentalizing beauty.
Taylor Hendrick, a modeling agent at Wilhelmina Talent Agency, explains how models are categorized as either editorial—for high fashion shoots—or commercial—for other forms of modeling, such as television, advertisements, travel, and so on.
“Editorial talent starts out around 18 years old,” Hendrick explains. “They have 3 to 4 really great seasons and then maybe it will fall off.”
Commercial work, on the other hand, can start in a model’s 20s and continue until their 40s or beyond. Aesthetic requirements for editorial models are much more stringent, but they are the ones who build their names and are recognized by the public.
Every face on the runway or in ads on billboards has traveled an arduous journey just to get there. Many of these models started off working odd jobs and continue to do so on the side just to make ends meet.
One model was building houses before he started posing; another was a janitor at Whole Foods. Despite the soaring costs, high debt, and little collective benefit, male models continue to strive, with stars in their eyes, to be the next face of Calvin, grace the cover of Italian Vogue, or walk the runway at an international fashion week. The competition is fierce and the stakes are high, but as one model mentions, “we’re all in the same struggle.”