How to Become a Shoe Model

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Shoe modeling is a great way for women to earn extra income. If you live near any major metropolitan city, chances are there are modeling agencies near you that are looking to submit applicants for seasonal shoe shows. Unlike runway models, which have to be extremely tall, most shoe models are petite in size and need not have a portfolio of photographs or a lot of experience in modeling. The money is generally very good, and the work, though not frequent, is reliable in that it comes at the same times each year, and many shoe companies will rehire models again and again. Here are a few things you need to know if you are planning to model shoes.

  • Contact your local modeling agencies to ask them about becoming a shoe model if you have a size 6B foot (or very close to it). Unless you are very tall, petite agencies are more likely to be interested in you for shoe modeling jobs (see Resources below). Shoe shows are the place where manufacturers and store buyers meet to discuss the newest looks in the product lines and to order shoes for next year’s season. In general, the shoe shows come to town twice a year--once in the fall and once in the spring, but some companies may have three shows a year.

  • Contact shoe-manufacturing companies directly. Ask if they need “fit models,” or when they might be hiring shoe models for shows. A fit model is a person whose foot is the perfect sample size for their company--sometimes 5½, sometimes 6B. The fit model stands for long hours as shoe designers and crafters discuss the shoe in its various stages of progress. It is not a glamorous job, but the pay can be very good, and fit models tend to work more often than models that do shows only.

  • Have at least one decent headshot taken, as well as a photo of your legs and feet (in shoes). Your photo should have all pertinent contact information on it and your statistics, including your height, weight, dress size, bra size and shoe size. A 5 by 7 contact card with three shots--a full body, headshot and leg/shoe shot--is most effective when seeking shoe-modeling jobs, but if you are just starting out, you can use any photo as long as your information is attached.

  • Practice walking in all different sized heals--extremely high heels, mid-sized heels and flats. Walk in a straight line, stop and demonstrate the shoe from each angle before moving back down the “runway.” Remember, the focus in shoe modeling should be the shoes. Don’t do anything to draw the buyers' eyes to your body or face. The successful shoe model works the shoe and nothing else.

  • Once you are hired for a show, be sure to show up early and dressed appropriately. Most companies will have a wardrobe for their models to wear during the show, but some will expect you to provide your own. Bring two or three outfits for their stylist to choose from, and have at least two pairs of fresh, clean pantyhose.

Tips & Warnings

  • Every company pays a different price, and many companies and agencies have a different rate for different models, depending on their experience, availability and other factors. In general, you should earn between $200 and $450 a day for shoe modeling, minus the 10 to 20 percent agency fee.
  • Shoe modeling, like any modeling, is highly competitive. One of the best ways to get on the inside of the shoe show business is to become friendly with other shoe models and to let them know that you are available in case they ever need a replacement model for their booked gig. Very often, a successful shoe model will receive a last-minute offer for a higher paying job and may want to get out of her contract with a company. Being on a backup call list is a good way to get your foot in the door at the shoe company.
  • Never give any agency money up front. Any modeling agency that requires up-front money for portfolio shots or other supposed expenses is not reputable and should not be trusted. Instead, your modeling agency should have you sign a contract for each show, stating the daily rate you are to receive, the amount of days you are contracted to work and the percentage of your income that will be deducted from your paycheck to go to the modeling agency as a fee (see Resources below).
  • Photo Credit artvex.com
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