A career as a male model can be glamorous and lucrative. But with increasing competition, what does it really take to do well in this industry?

With male imagery used to sell everything from designer clothing to protein shakes, demand for good-looking, photogenic men keeps rising. Income potential is immense, too. Top male models easily earn six figures by combining runway, editorial, and branded campaigns.

While women still dominate areas like high fashion, other specialties allow more men to enter the industry now. Categories like fitness, sports, lifestyle, mature, and plus-size modeling have broadened the playing field for men.

Physical Attributes Matter

male models, oli benz, tommy Mckeown

Modeling remains a visual craft focusing on highlighting human aesthetics, though. With exceptions for specialty work, certain physical traits are clearly more desirable.

Height & Weight

male models, oli benz, tommy Mckeown

Most male models range between 5’11 ” and 6’3” bare feet. 6 foot to 6’2” tends to be the industry sweet spot currently. Body shape expectations differ based on the area of modeling:

  • High Fashion: Lean, slender build with just 8-12% body fat. Weight between 145-165 lbs depending on your frame. Less muscle definition, more emphasis on narrow waist and long limbs.
  • Runway: Dimensions are similar to fashion modeling, but the ability to walk in designer outfits athletically is essential.
  • Commercial/Catalog: Broad range from slim to moderately muscular or well-built body types. Average height 5’11” or above.
  • Fitness: Visibly muscular and cut physique. Relatively low body fat percentages under 15%.

Take accurate body measurements of your height and weight along with chest, waist, arm, and neck girths. 

Compare against industry standards to assess if you have the right male model body metrics.

Facial Features & Skin

Your face will make the first impression at castings and test shoots. Standout facial aesthetics like chiseled cheekbones, strong jaw, or piercing eyes help. Overall, facial symmetry matters more than any specific feature. The skin should be smooth and blemish-free without visible pores or uneven tone.

Well-groomed thick hair with volume and sheen allows for versatile styling. Dyed colors are perfectly acceptable if done professionally. You can shave or trim body hair depending on client needs and personal comfort levels.


Emoi Frasier: Male Model Breaks Down Barriers in Fashion
Emoi Frasier: Male Model Breaks Down Barriers in Fashion, AMFAM

Looking like a Greek sculpture brings you halfway there. But confidence is an absolute must to carry yourself through constant judgments. Comfort is the center of attention, with all eyes dissecting every inch of your body. 

To survive and thrive in the industry, every male model needs the following personality traits, which can be developed in time. 

  1. Ability to chat naturally with complete strangers on client teams.
  2. Professional discipline in managing chaotic schedules stuffed with travel, early call times, and last-minute bookings. 
  3. Quick adaptation skills – modeling often means stepping into unfamiliar environments and pulling off new poses intuitively.
  4. A driven, ambitious attitude with perseverance powers success here. 
  5. Tough skin to absorb criticism about your looks or skills during the early phase. 
  6. Stamina to slog through months or years of rejections before your big break.

Pick Your Modelling Category

Male modeling has a lot of working areas now. Choose your specialty based on individual strengths. Some overlap is possible once you gain experience.

High Fashion

High fashion is mostly about walking down Europe’s prestigious catwalks in designer labels. It is also about delivering sultry gazes representing luxury brands in popular magazine editorials. This field demands height, leanness, and intangible “wow” factors to showcase cutting-edge fashion creatively.


The commercial category is all about selling mainstream consumer products like electronics, food, cars, or apparel for catalogs, billboards, and TV ads. Commercial modeling works well for average to athletic body types with everyday appeal. It pays decently but doesn’t have the prestige of high fashion.


Runway modeling means displaying a designer’s latest collection by walking smoothly yet powerfully on the ramp. It requires impeccable posture, precise movements, and the ability to wow crowds sporting the clothes. Commercial viability beyond the catwalk matters less here.


The fitness category includes mostly showcasing supplements, athletic wear, or representing sports nutrition brands thanks to your fit, muscular frame. It also means getting published in fitness magazines or photographed for gym advertisements. Some crossover with bodybuilding or personal training is possible.


It is a specialized area where only particular body parts get modeling contracts. E.g., being a hand model for a watch company. Necessitates exceptionally photogenic body parts.


This is more of an edgier field, like a tattoo or piercing modeling. Displaying the illustrated body as a living canvas. Retain creative control over your images and do not need commercial viability.

Building Your Modelling Portfolio

model portfolio

A model’s portfolio showcases their “look” and modeling potential to prospective clients. A versatile portfolio tailored to your niche is essential. It should include:

  1. A clear headshot image highlighting your best facial features
  2. Multiple full-length pictures showing your body type – front, side, and back poses
  3. Fashion photos wearing designer clothing or well-fitted casual
  4. Swimwear and fitness category images, if applicable
  5. Black & white artistic photos and commercial lifestyle pictures
  6. Images styled or edited to align with your target area of modeling

Ideally, shoot with an experienced fashion photographer using a professional camera. Investing in high-quality images pays off many times over in better representation.

You can self-produce images starting out. But the portfolio should impress – not seem like casual snaps.

Gaining Modelling Experience

Take Every Opportunity That Comes Your Way Initially

In the early days, focus on quickly building experience over big paychecks. Any modelling-related opportunity, paid or unpaid, helps you start:

  • Creating content for your portfolio
  • Practicing posing skills
  • Testing makeup, hairstyling, and following creative direction
  • Building industry connections
  • Understanding if you actually enjoy modeling work

This allows you to make mistakes and learn without much at stake. It also prepares you for bigger chances down the line.

Volunteering as a fit model for designer friends or amateur photography shoots work. You can also apply for unpaid modeling gigs posted on community boards and classifieds sites.

Slowly Level Up To Better Projects

As your portfolio improves, start selectively targeting better commercial or fashion jobs. Local store campaigns, looking to book photoshoots for agencies, and test modeling for magazines are great next steps.

At this stage, focus on working with talented creatives, even for little pay. The superior images and videos they produce quickly get you seen by big brands.

Having even minor tearsheets or modeling credits builds your value fast. You can leverage the solid social media presence established till now to land paying modeling contracts.

Getting Signed By A Reputable Modelling Agency

modelling agency,

The most direct path to prestigious modeling work is through an established modeling agency. Top agencies have close relationships with major fashion labels, magazines, and advertisers. They can pitch you for global campaigns, instantly launching careers.

Earning Representation

  • Attending Open Calls: Some agencies host open model castings, allowing anybody to show up and try out. Be prepared to compete with hundreds of hopefuls.
  • Applying Directly: Submit your digitals directly to agencies accepting model applications. Follow each agency’s submission guidelines.
  • Getting Scouted: Agents or scouts may discover and approach you in public if you have the right look. But extremely rare.
  • Model Searches: Some agencies and companies host local model search events to find fresh, unpublished talent.


In all cases, bringing your A game gets better results. Dress stylishly to align with the agency’s domain – edgy fashion or commercial. Make a strong first impression with your personality and attitude. Sign with a contract only fully understanding terms and pay structure.

Reaching the top of the industry takes persistence through years of small steps. But the journey molds you into a confident, bold, and worldly professional. With dedication and the right guidance, break into this thrilling industry!