You know that sweater everyone compliments you on? Or that dress you never want to take off? Well, there’s a reason why you love those clothes so much.
Before garments hit the stores, they have to go through a rigorous design process that takes the garment from a simple concept to an exceptional product. And at the heart of it all is a very important person who few people know about: the fit or fitting model.
A fit model is a behind-the-scenes model who basically test drives clothing for a designer. Acting as a live mannequin, he or she can help a company’s design team see how the garment looks and moves on a real, live person. Fit modeling isn’t as glamorous as, say, fashion modeling (you’ll never appear in a photo shoot or a runway show) but many models find it satisfying to work side-by-side with the people who make fashion a reality.
Intrigued? Here are a few basic requirements to get a job as a fit model.
Have a Well-Proportioned Body With Industry Standard Measurements
First and foremost, all fit models must have well-proportioned bodies that meet industry standard measurements. For female models, clients usually look for someone 5’4’’ to 5’9’’ with measurements of 34-26-37. For male fit models, clients generally prefer a height of 6’1’’ or 6’2’’ with measurements of 39-34-39.
(Please note that these numbers represent a typical fit model. Actual numbers may vary from client to client, as everyone’s needs are different. Plus, there is also a demand for children’s, teen, petite, plus size, and even maternity fit models!)
Have a Flexible Schedule
Fit modeling isn’t a 9–5 job. Shifts vary from week to week depending on the season and the number of samples that are ready to fit, and you may have to work on an “on-call” basis. So, you need to have flexible weekly schedules!
Be Physically and Mentally Strong
You may be asked to stand still for extended periods of time while the designer’s pin, cut, pull and stretch the clothes into perfection, or walk around to give the designers a better idea of how the garment moves. You may even have to pretend to get into a car, dance up a storm, sit at a desk, or pretty much anything that a real customer would do. And because fittings typically last anywhere from 3–5 hours, you need to be in good physical shape to get the job done right.
Be Able to Work With an Audience
If you’re the shy type who isn’t comfortable getting dressed (and undressed!) in front of others, then fit modeling might not be the best job for you. Designers and garment technicians will want to see how easily you can get in and out of a garment to spot small technical errors, like a zipper being too short or armholes being too snug to slip into comfortably.
Be Knowledgeable About Fit and Fashion Trends
Fit models aren’t just living mannequins. More than anything, they’re there to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and provide the designers with valuable feedback about the fit, feel, and movement of the garment. Is it comfortable? Is the fabric too scratchy? Can you raise an arm without ripping a seam? Do the shoulders pull? Does it ride up too high (or too low) during everyday activities? These small details can make or break a garment, so you must be an excellent communicator who is comfortable expressing your opinions to the client.
If you don’t have a technical fashion background or any design experience, it’s a good idea to take a few classes to learn the basics. The more you know about what goes into making a garment, the better feedback you’ll be able to give. And that, of course, means you’ll be hired and rehired time and time again.
Have the Right Connections
As with all types of modeling, the more exposure you have, the better chance you’ll have of making it in the industry. By submitting your photos to a reputable model scouting agency, you’ll be seen by the world’s top modeling agencies. It’s a safe, legitimate, and affordable way to make the connections you need to kick start your fit modeling career.