Image CRedit;

The modelling industry has undergone a drastic evolution over the past twenty years. The industry consisted of what most of us saw on America’s Next Top Model: Go-Sees, runway, photoshoots and beauty campaigns. This has been the norm of the fashion industry for decades but lately that has all changed.

With the birth of social media, comes a new form of supermodel. The criteria of the term ‘supermodel’ doesn’t have the same meaning as it used to. It no longer means just being the best in the business, but it also means dominating the world of social media.

When we think of the biggest supermodels of the 21st century, our mind immediately jumps to models such as Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Jourdan Dunn. But what do all of these models have in common except their stellar good looks? A strong social media presence. Kendall Jenner has approximately 84.2 million followers on Instagram, Gigi Hadid has 36.2 million and Jourdan Dunn has 2.2 million followers.

Speaking to MTV news, Vivien Models manager Catherine McGill comments on how a number of brands will only consider models whose following is above 10,000. Gigi Hadid also comments on the importance of social media when she was in a meeting with one of her clients and they brought up one of her Instagram posts at a meeting.

This seems to be a recurring trend in the modelling industry all round the world. Speaking to Irish model and TV presenter, January Winters, she talks about how social media has become an important part of her career. Winters currently has a following of over 9,500 and is signed to Morgan The Agency, one of Ireland’s top modelling agencies.

Winters, much like Hadid, said, “I’ve been booked for jobs straight from my Instagram.” Social media has become a new outlet in which clients can screen models before they book them for a job. Winters also comments on how most bookings are coming off Instagram rather than a traditional portfolio.

The reality star turned model Kendall Jenner has also bagged high fashion campaigns, such as Estée Lauder, as a result of her social media following.

Estée lauder’s global brand president Jane Hertzmark Hudis attributed Jenner’s social media as one of the reasons for hiring her. Hudis said, “Kendall is the ultimate Instagirl, and we are excited to leverage her image, voice, energy and extraordinary social media power to introduce Estée Lauder to millions of young women around the world.”

While social media has propelled the career of many models, the drawbacks cannot go unsaid. Firstly, models expose far more of their lives than they ever did before. Whether it’s pictures of them on holidays, out with their significant other or even just relaxing at home with their pets. “There’s such a falseness to it all too,” said Winters.

“It probably always looks like I’m having the best time- I usually am, but I’m not going to post about being bored or if I’m having a cry”. Winters also said it worries her that people know where she is all the time.

Social media has created an era of a completely different supermodel. Models are not just expected to work long hours on a photoshoot or strut down a runway. They are now constantly updating their social media in order to stay engaged with the public.

January Winters says that a model can sustain a long career with little to no social media. She comments on how there are models who don’t have a huge following yet are signed to five of the top agencies in the world. So while social media may be a factor in the lives of models today, the hard work, determination and natural talent cannot be overlooked.


Niamh Dunne

Image Credit: Vogue