Skinny or not? Become a female model – The Model Experience Uk in Leeds

This week has seen the story of a young Swedish female model claim that she was told she was “too big for the fashion industry”… if thats true as the story claims, then yes, its totally unacceptable!

Click here to see the link….

So, having been in the industry for 22 years, what are my experiences? Well, thankfully, having worked all over the world as a model, it isn’t quite like that….well not everywhere anyway.

I’ve worked in London which is often termed as a “editorial” market, and that is a term we would use for Paris, Milan, New York etc…but i’ve spent 22 years working in what would be called a “commercial” market. So, whats the difference?

In areas such as Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle or Scotland,  the models would be described as commercial models, but lets be clear, that isn’t just models who do TV commercials. No, a commercial market is clothing brands, catalogues, sports brands, housing developments, travel brochures, gardening shots, playing on the i-pad shots, walking the dog shots…you get the drift. I have worked with loads of models who have made a very good career as a commercial model….would they (or me!) ever do a Prada campaign? No, probably not….but will they stay in the industry a long time….a big YES!

Commercial models are your man/woman next door that you see in Argos catalogues, TV commercials, etc etc, and they do well, very well. So what makes a girl or guy a good commercial model?

Mostly, and i say this to everyone i shoot, model with, teach on a class….a big smile! Do you need to be a size zero….no! Do you need to smile a lot, turn up on time, bring a good selection of clothing, get on with people, blah blah blah…YES! There is a very small minority of people that succeed as editorial models, some get insanely well paid….most don’t. Commercial models work for many years, work with varied clients, work all over the world, and what do they tend to look like?

Well for female commercial models….maybe 5’6 to 5’10, size 8-12, healthy, aged 18-60 (yes 60!) and with a great smile!!! Guys, maybe 5’10 to 6’2, healthy, fit, aged 18-60 (yes i said 60!) and guess what…a big smile!

So, back to the story…if the Swedish girl was labelled “too big” then thats disgraceful, its appalling. People who work in these editorial markets think their “part” of the industry is the ONLY part of the industry, but its not! Maybe that easy for me to say as a “commercial” model who would never be able to do “editorial” modelling. Why? I’m too old, my waist starts with a 3, and i’ve also learnt to work with agencies all over the UK (and Europe) that prosper with commercial modelling.

Let’s get back to London for example…there are many agencies that want the skinny girls (unfortunately!) but there are more that don’t…a lot more. So yes its complicated, London is traditionally an editorial market, but now with lots of commercial agencies as there is more work in this genre, and more models needed to fill this genre. Huge UK and worldwide brands have distanced themselves from this size zero era, and thats superb….but the commercial market has always been vibrant, always been profitable and always been full of “normal” sized people with big smiles!

My advice to the Swedish girl, don’t worry about it, be yourself, be the size you want to be and should be, and get a good commercial model agent! My recent commercial work has included hiking gear, road bikes, gardening gear, sofa tv commercials, e-commerce sports labels, sailing gear etc….do i care that i’m not an editorial market? No, of course not…i care about paying the bills, i’ve a baby on the way very soon!

When i started modelling in Leeds and Manchester 22 years ago, i was told (by Take That’s manager who had a model agency too) that “Matt, you could do well as a commercial model, you could be the next ***** *******” (its a guy’s name who is a legend in modelling, a good friend of mine, he’s 10 years older than me, and i’m 42, he works EVERYWHERE, he works CONSTANTLY, and he’s a great commercial model)….i just wish i could say his name, put up a link to his model pages, but he’s not answering his texts! At the time, i thought “no, i want to be the cool kid, doing shots with a fox on my head, showing ribs, and cheekbones, wearing jeans that start with a 2″….thankfully i followed his advice. I’ve never looked back, have been paid to see 4 wonders of the world, work in 5 of the worlds continents….and work with some of the best models around, and also with some of the best agencies there are.

So, take my advice, be a normal size, eat well, keep fit, practise that smile…and be a “normal” commercial model (for many profitable years!) And, if you are a parent wanting your child to be a teen or child model…then get them to read this; if you are unsure where you fit in to the market, message me on or if you want to see what my models, parents, customers etc say about me…then click on this link

I care passionately about my job(s), this industry, this lifestyle, and good old-fashioned “normal” “commercial” models …those that feel the same prosper, trust me! I care about those “editorial” models too…and i just want them to see the light, be healthy, eat well and learn there is another modelling world out there.

Get in touch if you need any help.



Matt x


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