Fit Modeling 101 with Stetts Agency
Ashley Stetts knows a thing or two about fit modeling. She was a model for about 14 years and learned how the industry works from the business aspect, the model’s perspective and what designers look for in a fit model. Most importantly, she knows how to navigate her way through a fitting and clearly communicate with a client.
Now, her company Stetts, a New York-based model management agency offers a diverse range of models which includes various ethnicities and sizes curated not only by her industry knowledge, but what it takes to be a strong model in today’s market.
She prides herself on fostering a tight-knit family and creating a positive model-friendly culture while empowering models with their endeavors within and outside of the industry.
We caught up with Ashley to give us the 101s of working with a fit model:
Why should designers use a fit model?
Designers love to see their clothing on a tall, thin model, which is fine for the design process, but when it comes to production it is so incredibly important to have great fitting garments for your particular customer. This means sleeves that are the right length, a cross front that accommodates the average woman's bust, etc…
Many emerging designers will use a dress form, but a form doesn’t have the ability to move its arms and tell you that the cross back is too small, or that it’s digging under the arms. That’s the value of a fit model - having someone with the right body proportions who can also give feedback regarding how the garment fits and moves on the body.
What makes your talent different?
We are a very small agency. Keeping it small and boutique as well as supermodel friendly means that we are able to keep close track of our girls and really know them - what they are going through and how that would impact their measurements and ability to be a consistent and reliable fit model.
When we scout we understand that a good fit model goes beyond just measurements - posture, shape distribution, shoulder slope, personality - so many factors have to align to make a girl an ideal fit, and we have mastered that. We train all fitting models with frequent seminars on understanding and communicating fit issues, so even the girls with less experience can provide that value. Our girls are all also really incredible to be around - they have amazing energy and are easy to work with. This is a must when you're spending potentially hours a week with your fit model!
We train all fitting models with frequent seminars on understanding and communicating fit issues, so even the girls with less experience can provide that value.
At what stage should you invest in a fit model? How often?
I would say as soon as you get your first samples in for production you should have your fit model there to try them on. Skip putting them on friends or yourself - get your fit right from the start and you'll save yourself from so many headaches later. You can create your standards and blocks and it will make life much easier! Most designers fit once or twice a week for 1-2 hours a session which is usually the average. Larger companies have standard fit times with their models three times a week for 2 hours a session when they have large lines to fit.
Is it important to keep the same model each season?
Using the same model consistently ensures your customer can trust your brand and always be sure of their size. We all know what it's like when you find a brand that fits you perfectly - you become a loyal repeat customer. Changing models results in a slight change in something like shoulder slope which can alter how the entire garment hangs and having to make additional corrections and samples! Once your patternmakers and factories know your fit it helps them work more efficiently as well. The whole process moves faster when you keep the same model who is working well for your line.
How does a designer select a model?
Think of who your target customer is. Is it more conservative line for an older woman? You should consider using an older fit model, maybe one who has had children. Are you targeting the Theory customer? They use a size 4 fit model - find yourself a model with similar proportions. Designers often come to us with some labels who's fit they like and ask us for similar models in that category. The most popular fit model sizes are still size 4 and size 8 because designers seem to like sizing up and down from these sizes based on their market. We also now have a growing plus size division for both size set models and for plus lines which is a whole different category to consider from a shape, proportion and height perspective.
Is a model booked just for fittings or can they do more?
We started as just an agency for fitting models since this was my area of expertise, but our girls began being requested for lookbook shoots and campaigns - so we spread into print modeling as well. We now offer fitting, fitness and lifestyle divisions. Many times a fit model will also be used for showroom and lookbook shoots for a designer.
What are rates like for a fitting model?
Rates are fairly standard for fittings. We can offer less experienced girls for lower rates and the more experienced models go up to the standard $250/hour plus a 20% agency fee. We negotiate rates for shoots based on how the images are used and of course will vary depending on the model.
Interested in using Stetts? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention The Emerging Designer to receive a reduced rate and get the right talent for your next round of fittings.
Learn more at Stetts.
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