Commercial models and their clothes

One of my least favourite questions nowadays is ‘so what do you do for a living?’ It is certainly not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed by my answer, but it’s more that there is a high chance of this question being asked in the school playground or gym changing room. You know those times when you’re looking far from glamorous and you can visually see people look you up and down and compare you to Gisele Bündchen! Therefore, to save my blushes, more often than not, my generic answer is that I work in marketing. 😉

Many people are unaware of the whole side of commercial modelling, so make assumptions based on the fashion modelling that they have seen on the tv and Britain’s Next Top Model!

kitchen

The purpose of a commercial model is to enhance the product, make it come to life, allow it to be seen in its real environment and show the lifestyle of the people ‘around’ the item. We’re not there to be the ‘face’ of a product like a fashion model, we should not overpower what we are there to sell nor should we take attention away from it and generally, we should represent an aspirational, but attainable, average person. Chances are, that on a daily basis, you will see many commercial models in magazine and street advertising and in television adverts, yet you wouldn’t recognise or be able to name any of them!

The next question I’m often asked is, ‘do you get to keep the clothes?’ To which I generally reply, ‘yes, because they are mine!’

The fact is that when you’re a commercial model you are expected to provide suitable clothing for your jobs. Once you are confirmed for a role you will be sent a brief giving you details of the wardrobe that you are expected to provide, how they would like your hair styled and, if necessary, what kind of make-up look to create. To be fair, this is generally a nice, natural, day look. Not too heavy!

What a client doesn’t want is that your clothing detracts from or gives the wrong impression of the product. Therefore, if a potential customer is more attracted to your clothing, jewellery or make up over the product that you are helping to sell, then the campaign could fail!
Scotts

So let me tell you a story. I started modelling just under two years ago and the first thing that I had to sort was some images for my portfolio. Cue a quick trip to Modelcamp HQ one frosty winter’s morning (unfortunately before their Fuerteventura days).

A couple of days earlier, Lewis had provided me with a list of the kind of thing to bring, so I cobbled a variety of outfits together to take with me. However, it very quickly became apparent that my personal style was not totally aligned with the commercial world as Gary rifled though hangars laden with All Saints leather jackets, trousers and a whole host of black and grey. Needless to say that his stylist skills were put to the test as he struggled to put suitable looks together, declaring that I need to get myself some colourful Primarni!

It was a steep and sharp learning curve, but I very quickly realised that what I like to wear in my own time is not going to cut it on a commercial shoot. So much so, that I now have a separate cupboard full of my work clothes that I never open for my personal life, yet they are client approved and that makes for easier packing! My work wardrobe is like a costume; it helps me to become the character that I am employed to play, be that a friend, mum, wife, tourist, or office worker.

KatieI

If you’re new to commercial modelling, here are my 7 top tips for putting your work wardrobe together:

  1. You may have to potentially lose your personal style when you’re on a job, but you are being employed for your look/face/body so don’t get a strop on! When you’re being employed as a new mum, turning up expecting to wear your leather mini skirt and crop top is just not going to happen, no matter how good you look in it!
  1. Lots of briefs include ‘no stripes, big patterns and logos’
  1. Put together a selection of the following kind of thing:

Women

– smart, darkish jeans
– cream, smart trousers / chinos
– white jeans
– white / grey long sleeved t-shirt
– plain t-shirts of various colours – neutral, pastel and bright
– range of plain knitwear – neutral, pastel and bright
– an office suit (as this is more expensive, I only buy one as needed!)
– a couple of summer and smart dresses
– knee(ish) length skirt
– age appropriate gym/sports wear
– plain coloured one piece swimsuit
– nude and black underwear, strapless bra
– a trench coat, outdoor jacket, smart coat
– collect some smart and woolly scarves/winter hats
– keep a range of costume jewellery together / belts
– black ballet pumps, clean white pumps, beige and black heels

Men
Similar to the above, with the obvious exceptions

– a nice suit
– smart jeans & trousers
– a couple of smart shirts with co-ordinating ties
– polo shirts in different colours
– couple of pairs of casual trousers and/or chinos – navy, beige
– smart shorts and swim shorts
– T-shirts (white, black, a few colors, no logos)
– couple of smart jumpers
– black/ brown smart shoes, casual/boat shoes, trainers (minimal branding)

Obviously don’t feel that you have to go out and buy all this straight away and bankrupt yourself! See what kind of jobs you get in and build up the most appropriate for your roles!

  1. Once you know what you need, you don’t need to spend loads on the clothes. Pop to H&M, Matalan and Primark etc.
  1. Ensure that what you take is clean, ironed and polished, especially if you’re on film as it cannot be retouched later. Even if it’s a photo shoot, no photographer is going to thank you for the extra time they have to spend in post production photoshopping your dirty shoes!
  1. Don’t forget to remove your jewellery/watch unless asked to wear it.
  1. Avoid current high fashion items. You are meant to reflect a ‘real, attractive person’ Also, if you’re lucky, the client may want to use the image again (nice usage/buyout?) but they won’t be able to if your outfit is particularly dateable.

So there you have it. You’re all now prepped, primped and perfectly ready for your next job! Those of you who have been doing this a while, what have I missed? What are your must have, wardrobe essentials and top tips?

Good luck!
Katie xx

The ageing face of marketing

 

Marketing. There’s no avoiding it. You simply can’t do much in this life without being faced with some image or other enticing us, or showing us, just how good our lives could be if only we purchased said product.

Personally, I’ve been on many sides of the marketing game. As a consumer, I’m compelled to eat cake after a gorgeous Insta post or want to up my watch game after spying some pretty rose gold number in a magazine. I have also worked in various marketing roles in my life, looking after campaigns aimed at getting you lot to drink more in your favourite bar, aspiring you to buy a Bentley or simply finding your next role through an excellent recruitment agency. Finally, and more recently, I’ve jumped career and become a commercial model. For those of you unsure of its meaning, basically, you’ll never see me on the front cover of Vogue but it’s highly probable that you’ll find me on the front of a B&Q kitchen catalogue 😉

Now, perhaps it’s something to do with passing 40, but all of a sudden some advertising campaigns have started to grate on me. You know the ones aimed at verging-on-middle-aged-me that use a fresh faced, 19 year old model? The age fighting eye serums shown on a woman without a single, tiny claw on her crow’s feet? Or the expensive loungewear catalogue aimed at over 40s-disposable income ladies, yet modelled by the lovely 23 year old? Yes, those ones!

Now, I have nothing against aspirational marketing. It’s the whole point of it after all. We all aspire to a bigger, better, faster, stronger and occasionally younger version of ourselves and if we want to put our faith in that new gravity defying mascara (knowing full well that we have short, stubbly lashes), well we jolly well can.

However, I honestly think that some marketeers are missing a trick by not using more age appropriate models, particularly where there is a definite demographic; and this applies to all ages! 40 year olds modelling mobility furniture aimed at 70+ must be frustrating for them too.

Let’s take mother of the bride outfits as an example. In an era where the average age of a bride in the UK is over 30, most mother of the brides are going to be over 50. So why are many of the clothes modelled by tiny under 30 year olds? I recently heard one Love My Dress bride say that her mum found the whole experience demoralising because of the unrealistic images in the boutiques showing her how she should look in that outfit. And we all know that we are highly less likely to buy something if we’re feeling crap about ourselves!

Dare I be so bold as to mention older ladies modelling lingerie and swimwear? A quick online search of some of the UK’s favourite underwear sellers confirms what I thought – that there isn’t a model over 30. Maybe 32 at a push; even those advertising granny bras (not being rude, but you know what I mean!) Now, underwear modelling is obviously not for all us mere mortals, but have you seen the figures on some women over 40?! Flipping heck, they’d give that Victoria’s Secret lot some competition in the sexy stakes and would a 55 year old lady get a better idea of how her potential new bra or swimsuit is going to look on her by seeing it on a gorgeous, aspirational, older model? Hell yeah!

Personally, I do feel that things are starting to change (albeit slowly), particularly in lifestyle images. After all, I wouldn’t be employed if some companies weren’t looking for 40+ models. Moreover, model agencies have expanded and sprung up solely to promote a range of ‘classic’ models; be they curvy, sexy, grey haired, silver-fox-like, quirky, short or skinny (and everything in between) so there are obviously interested companies and clients out there – and to them I say yay! However, when it comes to high end and designer fashion, using an older model seems to be done only to shock, go viral or grab the headlines, rather than the norm. Particularly for women.

Yes, we all know that men definitely get away with getting older more easily than women, who are meant to desperately hold onto their youthful looks or risk being resigned to the scrap heap and traded in for a younger model. Now, with the likes of Botox and fillers, it’s easier to keep those wrinkles at bay for a while longer. However, for those who don’t want to indefinitely inject the unknown into their faces, they will potentially look older and more haggard than ever! I once did a job for a new American, skincare brand and when the owner saw my forehead lines, he was fascinated as “no one has wrinkles in LA anymore!”

We want inspirational, beautiful yet real women, full of life, fun and passion. This is not the 1970s; people do not don the brown slacks and look old by the time they are 35. However, I do believe that we lack, gracefully ageing, role models. If we were to be asked to name some aspirational, older celebrities, I’m sure we’d all go for the same few women – Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench and Twiggy. Where are all the others?!

Importantly, it’s not all about turning back the clock and looking younger, it’s about embracing where you are now and it’s about looking and, more importantly, feeling great at every stage of life. I would never go back to being 20, even if some magic unicorn offered me the chance. I am at my happiest and most confident right here, right now and I would love the marketing world to realise that. I am not chasing some long faded youth and I’m not about to hang up my style or my Zara/All Saints addiction, nor swap my jeans for linen chinos, a twin set and pearls.

Finally, the salt-and-pepper and silver grey pound has the biggest clout on the market. We are BIG consumers, miss out, or alienate us, at your commercial peril! I believe that even in the make-up and beauty sectors, traditionally a real youth market, we are now the biggest spenders. However don’t read this and think that we are all desperately trying to hold onto our youth and slapping expensive, useless creams on our face in a vain attempt to look 25 again. It’s just about making the best of what we’ve got and what we’ve got is actually pretty damn good!

Kevin Lavery, the vice chairman of the Mature Marketing Association, says: “The fact is we are an ageing society. But that’s not the thing – the older demographic controls the world and it is becoming apparent to so many companies, because 80 per cent of the UK’s wealth is held by the over-50s.”

So I appeal to designers and marketing directors out there; please target us older lot appropriately and tap into more real beauties that truly represent your target demographic and beyond. Far from potentially putting people off your brand, it’s pretty much guaranteed to have us ladies flocking to it!

I, for one, as a massive consumer of pretty-much-everything you care to market to me, would most definitely love you for it.

Katie xx

 

I would like to thank all the mature simply beautiful models for volunteering to send along some of their images to be featured in this blog post. I hope that this tiny selection illustrates just how beautiful older ladies are.

What do you lovely readers think? Have I got this all wrong? Do most of you want to see more age appropriate models or do you prefer to see someone 20-40 years younger because they look better? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below.