Comparing Tens of Millions to Less: Female Models Dominate in Salaries

By Morayo Bakare

Most people would agree that this is a man’s world, where we must either play by his games or change his rules. This principle, however, does not apply in modeling. Women are paid top-dollar when they have a career in modeling, and it seems to be the only field where women outpace men by the degree at which they do. Becoming a supermodel for men is rare, as they do not have the opportunities to gain wide exposure that major companies offer female models, such as major cosmetics or fragrance companies or Victoria’s Secret. Men also receive lower rates for the same work. In the advertising industry, it is even considered conventional wisdom that men provide a lower return-on-investment than women do. has a list of the ten top earning male and female models in the industry. Sean O’Pry, who made a million and a half dollars in 2013, has multiple fragrance contracts from Jil Sander’s “Ultrasense” and “Spicebomb” by Viktor & Rolf’s to many others. He also does ads for Versace, H&M, Hugo Boss, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Despite the amount of work he does for many designers and companies, O’Pry’s salary is nothing compared to his female counterpart, Gisele Bündchen, who earned $42 million in the same year.

Even David Gandy, the face of Dolce & Gabbana, is in second place with only one and a quarter million dollars, compared to Miranda Kerr, the second highest earning female model, who earned about seven million dollars that year. Gandy has contracts with Hugo Boss, Banana Republic and Massimo Dutti. This supermodel is one of the few men to reach his status through contracting work outside of runways and catalogs. He is the brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker Blue and Whey Hey ice cream and also has his own training app and writes about fashion for British Vogue and GQ. It is unfortunate that Gandy goes above and beyond to make only about a seventh of what his counterpart makes.

According to Forbes Magazine, the top ten male models’ salaries combined only totaled to be about eight million dollars, while the female models made a total of $83 million in 2013. The men only made about an eighth of these ladies. According to, female models make about 148% more than male models. Such a pay gap hardly exists in most lines of work and is almost unheard of in many other professions in the same industry, such as the pay gaps for editors-in-chief of magazines, creative directors, or even stylists. These are significantly less inflated by consumer interest.

Advertising columnist for ABC News Larry D. Woodard states that the reasons for male models’ low pay are similar to why men’s sports are larger in industry than women’s sports.

“In fashion, women are really involved in a way that men aren’t,” Woodard says. “They pay more attention to it. Women even care about couture fashion even if they can’t buy it, but they want to look at it and understand it.”

Woodard adds that the men’s clothing industry is only $400 billion worldwide, while the women’s clothing industry worldwide is worth about $621 billion. Many female models at the top of the fashion industry have multi-million dollar contracts. Males, however, are largely hired for photo shoots, reducing their chances of constantly accumulating high pay.