What is a fit/fitting model?

  • Freya Hill

Fitting models are employed by clothing companies or fashion designers to work backstage in a studio to model clothes, lingerie, swimwear and/or shoes. By doing so a model allows a team of designers (and their assistant, seamstresses, tailors etc) to see how their creations look on the human body, how the fabric falls and if the cut is right. It means problems can be fixed before items are put for up for sale and a really great fit can be offered. Fit models are nothing to do with fitness but are living, breathing mannequins.

Both men and women work as fit models because there are markets for both men and womenswear fashion. But how do you become a fit model?

Fit models are chosen by a brand/designer based on their body (opposed to other styles of modelling where the face is equally as important). Their bodies must match specific requirements and this is judged by their height, bust, waist, hip and thigh measurements, arm and leg length, shoe and clothing size and more often for men, shoulders and neck size.

fitting model

Tip: These measurements are described as a model’s statistics and are vital pieces of information fit models need to know about themselves. Although you will not be expected to know this information straight off (except perhaps height and waist size) as a fit model will need to reference it quickly, hence UK Models have produced Z cards. These are small business card-style cards and along with your name, picture and contact details, you can also have your measurements professionally displayed. These Z cards are really useful to keep in a back pocket to give out to potential employers. If you’re interested in having a set of Z cards produced, get in touch with UK Models via our online application form.

It takes a great deal of patience above anything else to be a successful fit model. Clothing changes can go from being constant to only one outfit change a day, all day depending on the alterations that need to be made. There is an awful lot of standing very still, moving under direction and walking when requested (so that designers can see how fabric copes with movement) so models need to have a very calm, willing manner. Models must be respectful of the design team but must be able to work with them; if a designer asks you to describe how the trouser fits at the crotch, you must feel confident enough to tell them honestly as you are ultimately there to make the garment design better. (Before starting a job, a design team will tell you what level of interaction and opinion to give. Be careful not to go overboard. Good agencies will also be able to advise you.)

fit model

Generally speaking any model can be put forward for fitting work as long as they show the right physical and mental attributes. Many fit models are sourced via an agency (so getting signed to an agency’s books can be really helpful, especially if you are keen to focus on fit modelling in which case we recommend signing to a specialist fitting agency) although some retailers such as H&M advertise for their models directly through their website.

Our final piece of advice is to remember that as a fit model it is really important to keep an eye on and maintain your weight. Because you are being employed for your body size, it is unprofessional not to match your agency profile/Z card information or to keep chopping and changing the details people may have about you.

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Posted by Freya Hill

Freya is been writing for many years on fashion and modelling. Her hands are a bit too wrinkly for a 23 year old and she has worked with MTV, New Look and Vauxhall Fashion Scout.