If your cheekbones are often marvelled at and your “blue steel” is the envy of your friends, then you may have considered modelling as a career.
Channing Tatum, Vanessa Williams, and Charlize Theron all started off as models before their film and TV careers, and it’s easy to see why. Both industries value people who are able to communicate an emotion or thought with just a look. If that sounds like you, maybe it’s time to give modelling some proper consideration.
Successful models get the chance to travel the world, score free clothes, and earn very good money. And just as with acting, finding the right agent is key. These days, many leading agencies don’t just rep models but manage all aspects of their career, from acting to influencing.
Many of the top modelling reps in the UK are based in London, but there are also brilliant agencies outside of the capital. Begin by doing some research into what kind of work your potential agency does: Is it mainly editorial, catwalk, or commercial? Do they represent the kind of model you’d like to become? Where would you like your agent to be based? What’s their reputation like?
Keep in mind that no reputable agency will ask you for anything up front, financial or otherwise. Most UK modelling agencies will want to see a straightforward snapshot of your face and a full-length photo of your body as a first step. They won’t ask you to send professional shots, and you won’t have to pay ahead of time. If a potential rep does ask for money in advance, maybe it’s time to spin around on your oh-so-attractive heels and reconsider your options.
Here are just some of the best agencies in the UK to get your search started.
This top agency proves that you don’t have to be based in London to find success. Established in 1988 by Debra Burns, Boss represents models of all types: young, old, curvy, catwalk, families, children, commercial—and has a proven track record.
Burns discovered redhead supermodel Karen Elson when she was just sixteen years old. The agency’s site says that Elson’s career “embodies the individuality we celebrate,” and that its clients regularly work in “the great fashion capitals of the world.”
Boss doesn’t just focus on modelling; it also has a casting agency if you’re looking for acting jobs. It also reps food stylists, interior experts, fashion stylists, and hair and makeup artists—or, as the website puts it, “a bubbling cauldron of imaginative and innovative artistes.”
If you fancy joining Boss, you can submit headshots through the website. Submit clear, full-length photos of you dressed simply, without makeup. Women should be between 5'8" and 5'11", and guys between 6' and 6'3". You can apply if you’re under 16 with a parent’s permission. Boss only approaches potential clients through Instagram in response to the hashtag #ScoutMeBoss, never through Facebook, WhatsApp, or Twitter.
Based in Glasgow, Colours is the only Scottish member of the British Fashion Model Agents Association. The agency is all about nurturing homegrown talent, with top models like Natasha Luwedde, Lili Johnson, Kirsty Shearer, and Jack Lowden on its books.
Founded by Alison Bruce and Rosalynd Ramage 25 years ago, Colours represents models of all types, including for editorial and commercial work. It also manages makeup artists, stylists, influencers, and production talent. Colours is good at seeing the bigger picture. For example, one of its clients, Ella Thomas, who’s starring on the current season of Love Island.
If all this sounds like a bit of you, then you can submit a headshot, profile, and full-length image without makeup or filters. You have to be aged 14 or over and they’re keen to stress they want to see your bone structure so no hiding those model cheekbones with arty photography. As with all legit agencies you don’t need professional pictures for an application which you can do via their website.
All this plus they have a really helpful, straightforward guide to modelling, the different types and how to get into the business, which we’d recommend. As well as the obvious stunning good looks, they also stress how important personality, work ethic, a sense of humour and sleep is to getting ahead in the industry. Preach!
Elite is a big name global agency with a track record backing its claim to be ‘the world’s leading model management’ network. They’ve got lots of models on their books and claim they’re looking for the ‘faces of tomorrow’ – could that be you?
Set up in 1972, Elite is still one of the most famous agencies in the world and has the list to prove it. Big names such as the world’s top earning model Kendall Jenner, Adut Akech and Hoyeon bless their current main board and they also have a history of nurturing and enabling big name careers of models like Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer. Yes, Elite is the home of the original supermodel, so clearly they know what they’re doing!
When it comes to finding new talent, Elite puts its money where its mouth is organising the huge Elite Model Look contest, a global search for the next supermodel. The competition hasn’t got a bad hit rate either, in the last 30 years its discovered Gisele Bundchen, Lara Stone and Alessandra Ambrosio. The agency also has its own in-house PR and production services and a ‘talent’ list’ that includes non-modelling talent like Courtney Love, Ella Eyre and Jack Guinness.
Their mainboard showcases lots of high end editorial work, there’s lots of fashion magazine covers which is good to consider when you’re thinking about the kind of modelling work you’d like to do. They’ve certainly worked with big top end brands having booked shows for names like Louis Vuitton, Prada and Margaret Howell.
When it comes to meeting the agency their advice is simple – stay away from the make up and let them see the real you. They’re looking for natural beauty and a personality clients will want to work with again and again and again. Based in Islington, you can contact Elite Model Management by emailing our official scout firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +44 (0) 207 841 3288. You can also upload your headshots etc to their website.
IMG is a BIG name in the modelling world with offices in New York, Paris, Milan and Sydney as well as London. They say they like to challenge their models but also pride themselves on acting like a family behind the scenes. An example of this is that IMG runs a mentorship programme called Model Prep in which industry professionals and veteran models share their experiences with emerging talent, as well as an educational speaker series offering advice on subjects like mental health, nutrition, and even self defence!
According to Forbes Magazine, IMG represented four of the top five highest earning models in the world in 2018. Not a bad board to rep really. IMG is home to big names like Karlie Kloss, Chrissy Teigen, Alex Wek, and Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely, and has a reputation for helping build lucrative editorial careers that crossover out of the modelling world into other spheres.
Former IMG President Ivan Bart told Forbes that to crossover successfully, “you have to have a vision for it” – and plenty of IMG talents have proved they do. Cara Delevingne is just one of their models that has moved into acting post catwalk and it’s clearly a route the agency are familiar with.
IMG is also known for keeping up with trends. Bart adds that models should really pay attention to Instagram: “Your social media page is the magazine of your life, so how you represent yourself matters.” The agency also has an Instagram scouting account (weloveyourgenes) so you can get their attention that way too.
IMG also attempts to push the envelope when it comes to diversity insisting they push for different beauty standards and recently launching a division called Brawn, which celebrates the bigger male model.
Based in both Leeds and Manchester, Industry Model Management is a top UK agency and another well respected member of the British Fashion Model Agents Association. They rep men, women as well as stylists and social media influencers.
Established in the year 2000 by founder Martha Poole, Industry describes itself as a ‘boutique model agency’ that represents newcomers as well as more established models. As well as nurturing young talent they also stress the importance of models having the knowledge to deal with their finances – recommending accountants if needed and giving tax advice. They also give advice on mental health issues, nutrition, general wellbeing and fabulous tips for a flawless complexion! Their very useful code of practice can be read on their website.
Their model boards are split up into mainboard, new faces and commercial so it’s probably a good idea to have a think about where you might fit in their current rosta. If Industry seems like it might be your kind of agency then approaching them is simple enough. Email a face on, simple colour photo of yourself. You should be fully clothed, with your hair pulled back and without sunglasses or a hat. Their email address is email@example.com. Good luck!
British through and through, Models 1 is owned by its UK based management, with an HQ slap bang in the centre of London’s Covent Garden. Established in 1968, the agency began with just three models on its books but is now one of London’s most respected agencies.
They represent notable names such as Yasmin and Amber Le Bon, Olivia Palermo and Sophie Dahl but they also rep talent like actress Emilia Fox. As well as flying the British modelling flag they also seem to be doing their bit for older models – representing the original supermodel Twiggy and grey-haired goddess Daphne Selfe.
Models 1 does editorial and high end commercial work booking models for brands like Calvin Klein, GAP and Ralph Lauren. They’re well known for nurturing careers and being in it for the long term insisting they won’t let baby models in their care ‘run before they can walk’. They also stress the welfare of their models and insist they put the ‘care, safety and happiness of models above all else’ and before you think they are the Mother Theresa of the agency world, they say they do that because its in ‘the absolute interests of Models 1’! Refreshing eh?!
Based in Nottingham but also with an office in London and presence in Manchester, Model Students bills itself as the only UK modelling agency ‘providing professional modelling jobs to individuals in full time and part time education’. Just to underline their niche, the agency’s tagline is ‘more than pretty faces’!
Model Students takes on men and women but as the name suggests it skews younger. There are no silver foxes on this particular agency’s books. At the moment they have around 83 women and 44 men on their boards and seem to feature more commercial leaning work.
Set up over 13 years ago by Anna Gray, a University of Nottingham student while she studied for her business degree, the agency promises a ‘friendly and unpretentious approach’. Their clients include fashion heavyweights such as Nottingham boy Paul Smith and John Smedley as well as more commercial big hitters like Boots, Costa Coffee and Pretty Polly Tights.
Talking to Creativesgo, Model Students boss Anna Gray said the agency doesn’t often send models for casting choosing instead to rely on clients coming directly to the agency and requesting a specific model.
She was also adamant about pursuing an ethical approach to running her agency: “We realise students don’t have any money to pay for photos. We don’t charge them for photos or to be with us. We only make money if we find them work. We are trying to be a little bit different, a little bit more ethical… anyone who’s trying to get you to pay a lot of money up front probably isn’t reputable.”
Model Students is a member of the British Fashion Model Agents Association, the trade association of the UK industry.
Established 30 years ago by Sarah Doukas, Storm’s track record for finding new talent is hard to beat. They discovered Kate Moss (in an airport), Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn (in Primark), Lily Cole, and the list goes on.
Despite its success, Storm hasn’t rested on its laurels, continuing to evolve by offering its clients varied in house services such as branding and licensing, artists’ management and opening new departments like StormVision which manages the careers of social influencers. Excitingly, Storm wants its models to get involved in the business side of their careers – encouraging them to keep an eye on their ownership of their own intellectual property and brand.
Storm wants to help its models develop their career, whether that’s just modelling or developing in other areas. If they see potential they sign people in all sorts of professions including bloggers, vloggers, actors, writers and presenters. This means they have a unique perspective and expertise.
Storm boss Sarah Doukas told Vogue magazine that she only employs caring people as agents. “You have to be a strong and inspiring influence as well as a brilliant business agent. I try to employ really caring people and not just people who are good at being agents.” You can test their niceness during their open castings which run Monday to Friday (10-12, 2-4pm) at their Chelsea office.