How To Make It In The Cut-Throat World Of Modelling: Insiders Reveal!

Sumona Bose

Fashion Writer

A common question that most aspiring models and newcomers have is “how do I become a top model?”. It doesn't help that the world is brimming with tips and tricks on how to do it. So much so that it becomes overwhelming for a beginner in the industry. We decided to get some first-hand insights into the world of modelling and what can get you there. A tete-a-tete, with some of the top models working in the Indian fashion industry, was all it took. 

These insider tips on how to become a model are no less than the holy grail for modelling aspirants - they let you in on how to get in, survive and excel as a model. Keep your pens at the ready, future faces of fashion, because you are going to want to note these down, pronto!

Starting Out With The Right Agency


A post shared by hasleen kaur (@hasleenk) on

There are many ways aspiring models are scouted in this industry. This is Hasleen Kaur’s story - having started her journey as the first-runner-up for the Miss India pageant, she got her big break when she signed on with an established modelling agency. If you want to make it in fashion, your aim should be to work with agencies like ANIMA, INEGA, KWAN, RUNWAY, the top spots in Bombay & Delhi for Indian models. Although, she recommends that you don’t just walk in there with no prior research. Make sure you’ve done your due with diligence.


A post shared by hasleen kaur (@hasleenk) on

Familiarise yourself with existing model profiles on their websites, as they analyse you and your style. Whether you’re the right fit for their model line up. For instance, modelling agency ANIMA’s strength is that it has international leverage, hosting talent to feature in foreign modelling assignments. So, when auditioning, you need to give them a sense that you are fit to be an international model, all down to natural hair, minimal makeup and chic outfits.

On Choosing The Best Market For You


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Model Nidhi Sunil gave us a top tip about the profession: you cannot be a ‘Do-It-All’. To make sure you do a good and consistent job it is necessary to find your strength. Modelling is not just about the runway, there is print, commercials, catalogue and much more. Being 5’7”, Sunil did not stress about runway modelling and, instead, found that her strength was in front of the camera. And after that she worked as part of several photography projects, the runway followed her anyway!

Picking The Right Projects Is Key


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Model Arshia Ahuja believes that doing quality work is much better than quantity. Make sure you’re on top of your game. Get details on who the photographer is, the makeup artist and the rest of the team. If you want to get more information on who you will be working with, go to their Instagram pages and check out their work. It helps you be comfortable in your skin when you’re doing projects. For instance, if it is an intimate shoot, find out more about the usage, market and team.


A post shared by Arshia Ahuja (@arshiaahuja) on

One more thing: stay true to your agency, as they fight for you. There’s someone who is looking after you through your time with them, especially if you are very young. Also, don’t just work hard, work smart! In her line of work, she comes across many new girls, either doing free shows or with very less money just because they are being given an opportunity. Pick projects that resonate with you and involve working with a strong team.

On The Relevance Of Social Media


A post shared by Nidhi Sunil (@nidhisunil) on

According to Nidhi, you should use social media as a platform to tailor your own brand image and reach audiences, even beyond the borders. Travel to get more followers, collaborate with other influencers, let people know where you are and be accessible to brands. Social media, today, turns you into your own PR agent.  

As a freelance top model, Reha Sukheja relies on social media to stay visible in the industry. While, for Arshia Ahuja, it’s easier to tell clients about her Instagram. That way, they can see all her updated work rather than sending files via email. Also as you gain a fan following, there’s a good chance you’ll get job proposals in your Instagram DMs itself!

On Building A Strong Resume


A post shared by hasleen kaur (@hasleenk) on

Take it from someone like Hasleen, who has been in the industry for 8 years now - working on a strong and versatile lookbook of your projects is of utmost importance. This does not come by shooting with one single photographer, even if they are good at what they do. Nidhi Sunil reached out to assistants and junior photographers who were willing to collab with fresh faces for test shoots. She believes, they are the best opportunity to hone your craft, a no-stress environment to see what does and doesn't work for you.

Is That Expensive Portfolio really necessary?


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If you have been wracking your brains to figure out the cash required to make a portfolio, don’t! Ahuja suggests you don’t make one. Most good agencies should be able to get you test shoots. Why empty your pockets building a portfolio? It’s best to just take a few Polaroid photos. A friend or family member could help you. Just throw on a basic white shirt and black jeans.

A top tip from Reha, in this regard, would be to build a portfolio after you join an agency, where you will have access to better photographers. Spending tons of cash before you see an agency will be a waste since every agency is on the lookout for a certain kind of model. And that might not come across in a regular portfolio.


A post shared by Reha Sukheja (@rehasukheja) on

Dealing With Rejection The Right Way


A post shared by Reha Sukheja (@rehasukheja) on

As someone who has been put down a lot, Reha has realised one thing after years of modelling. That you can't make everyone happy. You are a certain kind of beautiful and while that works for certain clients, it might not be what other agencies are looking for, at that point. There is always a need for so many different kinds of looks, and the industry is big enough for everyone. Just be confident and pay no heed to any unsolicited advice thrown at you!

On Looking The Part


A post shared by Nidhi Sunil (@nidhisunil) on

How you look is the most important aspect of being a model. That means adhering to measurement standards (see: 30-32 bust, 23-24 waist, 34-35 hip) in the industry and overall fitness. You need to be fit, so find something that gets you there. For Sunil, it’s Yoga. Although, she keeps a busy lifestyle to stay fit. A mix of different physical activities, from dancing to surfing, is what keeps her looking the part. Work out in ways that you enjoy… mix & match to get more out of your regime and challenge yourself when it comes to your body!


A post shared by Reha Sukheja (@rehasukheja) on

Pay close attention to what you eat. Reha suggests a proper nourished diet of clean and wholesome food. Do not go on a stringent diet, since starving yourself can and will have negative implications on your body, sooner or later.  

On Maintaining A Proper Work Ethic

According to Hasleen, nobody teaches you the professionalism in the modelling world, you have to drill it in yourself. What clients and brands are fond of, is a ‘pleasant and present’ attitude. You should be available physically and mentally, at full capacity, to do your part, like all professional individuals across industries.

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Published on Feb 28, 2018
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