Alternative Models: Who Are They?

  • Claire Louise

Alternative models fill a certain ‘niche’ in the modelling industry. Often just referred to as ‘alt models’, alternative models are men and women who tend to model for brands that aren’t as conventional or mainstream as others. However, that doesn’t mean alternative models aren’t successful – in fact, there is a huge demand for them! These days, a less commercial look is becoming especially desirable, as it represents youth and edginess, something that a lot of brands are trying to push.

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Find useful tips on alternative modelling in the video below.

Stand out from the Crowd

Alternative models might model for goth brands, hipster brands, emo brands or even scene brands. This is because they often fit a certain ‘image’ – that of tattoos, piercings and bright hair colour. Many models wth an alternative style rock distinctively unnatural colour hair such as bright pink, electric blue or a vivid purple. If you’re someone who isn’t really interested in convention, but whose appearance is still visually appealing, you may be interested in the aesthetics of alternative models. It’s a great way to be involved, as there are lots of companies looking for this alternative style, but less people who fit the kind of look they’re interested in!

So how can you catch their eye? Not all alternative models have lots of body modifications. However, it undoubtedly helps in a part of the modeling industry which is all about standing out. So, even if you’re not covered in ink, a knowledge of that kind of world and an experimental style will really help.


Types of Work

In terms of work, alternative models might be asked to represent independent clothing lines. There are many fashion labels in the commercial mainstream market with brand advertising that has an edgy attitude. Take Dr Martens for example, the footwear brand based in England. They regularly feature unique models to set an ultra-cool image that appeals to their market. Dr Martens is a brand name that is popular with the young generation who wish to experiment with their individual look and personality. Their appeal spans the whole of Britain, Europe and even International audiences.

You may perhaps be asked to model at things like car shows. They’re also highly successful in the rock music industry; alternative models tick many of the same boxes as rockstars themselves – attractive with a ‘bad boy’ or ‘bad girl’ image. They might wear band merchandise, promote their gigs, pose on album covers, or appear on stage. Knowing the right people can help in this area, so it’s time to get networking!


High Fashion

There’s a huge celebration of all things alternative at London Edge, where alternative models might be hired to walk the catwalk at the trade show. Lots of brands get involved, representing the huge scene that this particular style has in the UK market.

Alternative models often aren’t involved in high fashion, but there is occasionally a crossover. For example, some who traditionally meet certain conventions can be hired for other kinds of fashion or even catwalk work. A lot of modelling agencies are opposed to tattoos and piercings. Remember that if this is the kind of work you want most, it may be advisable not to go down this route. Saying that you may have noticed that large companies have recently started using models with lots of tattoos to promote their clothes commercially. When hired by a fashion brand you will take part in a photoshoot. On the day make-up artists and hair stylists will enhance your alternative style.

The best way to find out if you can succeed in the industry is to sign to an agency. This way at casting calls you will be given a fair audition as the agency will have connections with brands who are looking for models with an edgy attitude or to go in a new direction. Casting dates will vary as your agency will contact you as and when the jobs become available.


Diversity in Modelling

Some alternative models might be involved in glamour modelling. However, it totally depends on their personal preferences. For example, Dita Von Teese is known for her burlesque dancing and modelling. Her seductive, glamorous look is a very different style to the usual type in the modelling industry. Her highly recognisable black hair colour and pale complexion makes her stand out. Another example, is Dany Divine. Her distinctively unnatural colour hair – red and black, her heavy make-up and provocative clothing definitely put her in the glamour section of alternative modelling. Dita Von Teese and Dany Divine are just a few that have found success.  There are even fetish models with modelling sites such as Suicide Girls.

You will see smaller and bigger alternative models, as it’s less about your size unless this is specifically specified for a particular job. Different styles of clothing will vary. For example, band promotion work might be looking for petite women, whereas gothic clothing companies might be interested in a plus sized model to suit the needs of a lot of their customers. Alternative models represent a world where many of the followers are concerned with being individuals! You can be yourself.

If you stand out, you might have a chance. Be natural in your style, but keep up to date on the trends in this world. As with all types of modelling, you will have to be well-groomed. However, with alternative models, it’s all about being different as well.

If you’ve got a pierced lip or nose, stretched ears or perhaps pink hair, maybe this is the side of the industry for you!

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