London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo – these cities are the main fashion capitals of the world, each with its own and distinct notion of beauty. The idea of traveling to these places may seem far-fetched, romantic, exciting and scary all at once. Many opportunities emerge which are related to these cities, as well as the smaller markets. Quite often, an agency will have a casting with these agencies from foreign cities or else send a model’s materials to agencies in faraway places. Although such a career move may possibly seem overwhelming and impossible, traveling is certainly in the best interest of every model.
What sets a model apart from other models, and what has been strongly enforced in the booking process, is the portfolio. The portfolio is the crowning achievement of a model’s body of work, the assembly of the tear sheets and campaigns that a model has shot over their career. This process begins humbly, with test shoots through the agency. Having professionally shot images can give a model a launching pad to gain upward mobility in the industry. The goal is to book editorials and then eventually advertising and catalog jobs. The agency can use these images to market their models in the most effective manner to make the most money possible. Part of the process is to obtain editorials, preferably in prestigious magazines. Although being in one market allows for opportunities, other markets may be easier to work in or celebrate a specific type of beauty more than others. Traveling allows for a model to capitalize upon whatever market demands his or her look.
When a model sets their base in a fashion capital for several months, it allows him or her to live as a local and experience the culture in a non-touristy way. The best way to experience the culture of Italy or France is to live the daily life, experience the language, and find the places where the locals go. Admittedly, this isn’t always easy. With traveling, it’s a matter of using a map, negotiating the bus and subway system in a foreign language while figuring out financial conversions when buying food at the grocery store. Can I use my phone? How will I make friends? Is this trip worth it? Ultimately, every trip is what you make it. The more you put into your castings and the experience of being in a foreign city, the more you will gain.
Conversely, undertaking such a trip can seem very risky (what if I don’t work?) and lonely (all my friends will be together back home this summer!). Having these feelings of uncertainty is completely normal and valid. But, at the same time, agencies are taking in models with the hopes to make money and it is in their best interest to bring in models who will work. This requires trust of agencies to make the right decisions. They don’t want to waste your time or their own, and the excitement behind having a model there counts for a lot. As for friends back home, it’s true; you will miss out on friends and family while overseas. Being signed by an agency, however, means that you were open to the opportunities that this business has; once your signature is on that line, it meant that your life would never quite be the same as your peers back home. It’s definitely scary to deviate from the norm, but that’s all part of the process.
Surely traveling is an undertaking, as a model must leave behind the comforts of life as he or she knows it. But the benefits of investing time in foreign markets are well worth the time and start-up costs of getting to a new place.