Best Modeling Agencies

IMG is the most prestigious modeling agency

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Modeling agencies exist to help brands and publications find models for upcoming advertising campaigns, creative editorials, runway shows, and more. As a model, signing with an agency can vastly increase your chances of getting hired for modeling jobs and can help further develop your skillset. 

The best modeling agencies will get you the kind of work you’re interested in pursuing and be passionate about promoting you. They will also have dedicated staff who will work with you to develop your skills and connect you to the right resources to support your career growth. We vetted the following agencies based on reputation, size, talent roster, and clientele.

Best Modeling Agencies of 2021

Best Overall : IMG


IMG

IMG

Application Format: Online form

Year Founded: 1987

Who They Represent: Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls, Miranda Kerr

Why We Chose It

As an international leader in talent management, no agency compares to IMG. Responsible for launching the careers of supermodels like Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, and Joan Smalls, IMG has both the reputation and resources to support its successful talent. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Highly established agency with top tier clientele

  • Global presence

  • Large amount of staff and resources

Cons
  • Difficult to get signed with

  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

IMG Models was originally founded by sports agent Mark McCormack as an offshoot of athlete talent agency IMG Worldwide. Over nearly four decades, IMG has become an industry leader in model management and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan, and Sydney. We chose IMG as the best modeling agency for its impressive history, global reach, and undeniably strong reputation.  

IMG prides itself on its ability to work with newcomers and industry veterans alike. The agency was responsible for launching the careers of some of the most recognizable names in the industry, like Bella and Gigi Hadid, and currently represents superstars like Miranda Kerr, Sailor Brinkley-Cook, and Ashley Graham. 

You can submit your materials through IMG’s website with their online form. However, because they are world-renowned, their application is more involved than most of the ones on this list. In addition to submitting photos, IMG asks for two videos: one of your best catwalk and one that showcases your personality. For newer models, it’s typically more difficult to get signed with bigger agencies like IMG. 

IMG does not disclose any information regarding pay or commission rates.

Runner-Up, Best Overall : DNA Models


DNA Models

DNA Models

Application Format: Email 

Year Founded: 1996

Who They Represent: Emily Ratajkowski, Kaia Gerber, Naomi Campbell 

Why We Chose It

Since 1996, DNA Models has been championing top-tier talent and fostering their professional development. As a result, the agency now has an industry-leading roster of household names like Kaia Gerber and Naomi Campbell and an unparalleled track record of booking iconic campaigns. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Holistic approach to management

  • Top tier talent

  • Strong client roster

Cons
  • Does not have a global presence

  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

DNA was founded in 1996 with the hopes of marrying the boutique approach of smaller agencies with the global power of larger ones. The New York-based agency quickly blew past its humble beginnings and now has one of the most powerful talent and client rosters in the U.S. 

DNA takes a more holistic approach to management, which means it prefers to score multi-contract deals for its talent and helps those who are interested cross over into other creative endeavors, like acting. To get scouted by DNA, you can submit your unfiltered, unretouched photos via email. The agency doesn’t list many guidelines, so we suggest looking at their current boards to determine if you would be a good candidate. 

We chose DNA as our runner-up because although it is an extremely successful agency, it does not boast the global presence that IMG does. Like most reputable agencies, DNA also does not publicly state any commission or pay information.

Best for Beginners : State Management


State Management

State Management 

Application Format: Online form

Year Founded: 2015 

Who They Represent: Anna Yurkova, Kate Connick, Lydia Bielen 

Why We Chose It

One of the newest agencies on our list, State takes a more modern approach to both scouting and management that makes it perfect for fresh faces. Don’t let its young age deter you from applying; State also works with big-name clients like JW Anderson, Marc Jacobs, and UGG–just like its legacy counterparts. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • More progressive approach to scouting

  • Personalized approach to management

  • Inclusive of all genders

Cons
  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

In 2015, State was formed out of a desire to bring a more modern touch to a traditional industry. State currently scouts models of all gender identities, as well as petite and plus-size models for a more inclusive roster. Over the last six years, the agency has formed relationships with an impressive number of large fashion and retail clients. We chose State as the best agency for beginners because they are wholly dedicated to personalizing their coaching and approach for every model they sign. 

State’s application is easily accessible on their website and asks for a total of four different photos as well as your standard measurements. If signed, State will work with you closely to help you reach your professional goals, no matter what your experience level with modeling is. State also has a nationwide presence, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. 

State does not disclose any payment or commission information publicly.

Best Boutique Agency : Fenton


Fenton

Fenton

Application Format: Online form

Year Founded: 2009

Who They Represent: Aly Rae, Rafaelly Xavier Dos Santos, Savannah Ivarsson

Why We Chose It

Fenton is small but mighty. The boutique agency takes a handheld approach and secures both editorial and print jobs for its talent. Its commitment to providing its talent with what they need makes it stand out above the rest. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Small, dedicated team of agents

  • Recognizable client names

  • Fast response time

Cons
  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

Since 2009, Fenton has been managing a small group of female-identifying and male-identifying models. Despite its small size, Fenton secures some big-name gigs for its talent, including but not limited to campaigns for Kiehls, Laniege, and Shop Bazaar. Its clientele, small staff, and high-touch approach make it the clear winner for best boutique agency.  

Submitting your application materials is easily achieved through the online form on Fenton’s website. Fenton asks for four different photos plus your standard measurements, and you can also include a short message or links to your social handles if desired. Fenton is known to respond quickly to inquiries, if interested. 

Fenton does not publish or verbally disclose any information about payments or commissions until you are signed.

Best Runway Modeling Agency : Elite


Elite

Elite

Application Format: Online form

Year Founded: 1977 

Who They Represent: Fei Fei Sun, Shanelle Nyasiase, Rebecca Longendyke 

Why We Chose It

If you’re looking to get onto a runway, Elite is your best bet. The agency’s talent dominates the catwalks at fashion week and is one of the most respected names in the industry. Signing with Elite will set you up for success if you decide to pursue modeling long-term. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • One of the world’s most respected agencies

  • Long history of shaping supermodel careers

  • Global presence

Cons
  • Difficult to get signed with

  • Longer application

  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

Elite is an international agency that, like IMG, is often credited with aiding the rise of the modern supermodel. Through its famous Model Look contest, Elite discovered names like Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, and Lara Stone. If you’re looking to grace the runways of the biggest fashion designers in the world, Elite is the best option.

Elite’s talent roster can be found on the catwalks at every fashion week, from New York to Paris to Milan. Since Elite is one of the older and more established agencies, its selectiveness is definitely a drawback. Its application is also one of the more extensive and requires you to submit six different photos along with your measurements and information on your past work experiences. You can submit your application by form on Elite’s website or by email, but a response is not guaranteed. 

Elite does not disclose any payment or commission information until an agreement to represent you is reached. 

Best Commercial Agency : Bella Agency


Bella Agency

Bella Agency

Application Format: Online form 

Year Founded: 2004

Who They Represent: Liz Crowley, Olivia Norella, Sofia Belhouari

Why We Chose It

Commercial modeling is a very in-demand subset of the industry. Bella Agency definitely excels in this area more so than the big-name agencies on this list. Its clients include Delta Airlines, Pantene, and Uniqlo. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • One of the top NY-based modeling agencies

  • Not as stringent on age and measurements

  • Impressive client list

Cons
  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

Bella was founded in 2004 as a boutique agency aiming to have more diverse talent than its competitors. They now boast a bi-coastal presence as well as several different divisions, including Lifestyle, Influencers, and Youth. 

As a commercial agency, the requirements for becoming a Bella model are less strict than they are for more traditional agencies like IMG or Elite. Bella accepts models of all ages and commercial models can be any height, which is why it wins this category. Bella’s application form is short and simple: It asks for three photos, your measurements, and general contact info which can be submitted through its website. 

Although Bella specializes in commercial gigs, like other agencies, it does not disclose any payment or commission information to the general public. 

Best Fashion Agency : New York Model Management


New York Model Management

New York Model Management 

Application Format: Online form

Year Founded: 1985

Who They Represent: Meghan Collison, Luz Pavon, Unia Pakhomova

Why We Chose It

Fashion editorials are New York Model Management’s bread and butter. Led by two industry veterans, the agency’s expertise and exceptional clientele will leave you in good hands. Its boutique size combined with its industry prowess makes it a standout choice for those looking to get their start in fashion modeling. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Run by a highly experienced team

  • Smaller agency with boutique approach

  • Strong list of fashion and editorial clients

Cons
  • Does not disclose fees, pay, or commission

Overview

New York Model Management is co-owned by Heinz Holba, who started his career by purchasing the John Casablancas modeling school franchise in Canada, and Cory Bautista, who rose the ranks at Ford Models. With their combined expertise, they created an agency that excels in the fashion and editorial world, with clients including but not limited to Ralph Lauren, Shiseido, and Stella McCartney, earning it the top nod for best fashion agency. 

New York Model Management has big-name clients but maintains a smaller size, so its talent can benefit from having a more dedicated team. They have more divisions than a traditional agency and work with men, women, new faces, kids, and influencers. New York Model Management is a great option for those looking to break into runway or fashion editorial modeling, but don’t necessarily have the experience or know-how for a larger, global firm. 

The agency accepts applications by online form or mail. Their photo guidelines are as follows: 

  • No smiling
  • No posing
  • No makeup
  • Stand in front of a plain background
  • Pull back your hair (if you have long hair) 

New York Model Management, unfortunately, does not disclose any fees, commissions, or payment structures. 

Most Inclusive Agency : We Speak


We Speak

We Speak

Application Format: Online form, email

Years in Business: 2013

Who They Represent: Basit, Larisa Baseman, Jess Tran

Why We Chose It

Disruption is in We Speak’s DNA. In 2013, the agency was created with the goal of uprooting fashion industry norms. It succeeded and now boasts the most diverse and inclusive roster in the industry in every sense, representing models of every size, shape, gender representation, disability, and more.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Most diverse agency in the industry

  • Impressive client roster

  • Committed to transparency

Cons
  • Does not disclose pay or commission publicly

Overview

We Speak founder and former model Briauna Mariah felt frustrated by the constraints and lack of transparency in the traditional modeling world, so she set out to do something about it. The result is We Speak, an agency that champions acceptance, health, and diversity. Since its founding in 2013, We Speak has made significant strides and its models can be seen gracing ads for Nike, Target, and XBOX as well as editorials in Teen Vogue.  

We Speak has divisions for gender fluid, women, men, curve, classic, and duos–none of which are subjected to more traditional measurements or body types. The agency also prides itself on having no “mystery fees” and paying its talent on time. 

To apply to model for We Speak, you can submit your photos by email or online form. The agency will respond to you if they feel you’re a good candidate and welcome follow-up communications via email. 

Although We Speak is committed to being transparent with its talent, this does not extend to outsiders. No financial information is publicly disclosed.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a career in modeling, there are many agencies available to submit your materials. Some agencies, like IMG and Elite, are known for launching and working with superstars, whereas others, like Fenton and We Speak, are more focused on staying small and working closely with their talent. There is no single modeling agency that will be suitable for everyone, but we chose IMG as the top due to its undeniably dominant presence and global resources. 

Compare the Best Modeling Agencies

Company Application Process Application Requirements  Years in Business  Who They Represent 
IMG  Best Overall Online form Full-length, waist up, profile, and close-up photos; walking and personality videos;  measurements 34 Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls, Miranda Kerr
DNA Models Runner-Up, Best Overall  Email  No filters or retouched photos; no other strict guidelines given  25  Emily Ratajkowski, Kaia Gerber, Naomi Campbell 
State Management Best for Beginners  Online form Close-up, waist-up, full-length, and profile photos; measurements  Anna Yurkova, Kate Connick, Lydia Bielen 
Fenton Best Boutique Agency  Online form  Headshot; waist-up, full-length, and profile photos; measurements  12  Aly Rae, Rafaelly Xavier, Savannah Ivarsson 
Elite  Best Runway Modeling Agency Online form, email  6 photos, measurements, your story  44  Fei Fei Sun, Shanelle Nyasiase, Rebecca Longendyke 
Bella Agency  Best Commercial Agency Online form  3 photos, measurements  17  Liz Crowley, Olivia Norella, Sofia Belhouari 
New York Model Management  Best Fashion Agency Online form, mail  Measurements, social media handles, several photos  36  Meghan Collison, Luz Pavon, Unia Pakhomova 
We Speak  Most Inclusive Agency Online form, email  Headshot; waist-up, full-length, and profile photos; measurements  Basit, Larisa Baseman, Jess Tran 

How to Choose the Best Modeling Agencies

When submitting your materials to a top modeling agency, here’s what to look for: 

  • The agency’s Instagram account: Looking at their social media profiles will give you a better sense of what kinds of jobs they’re booking for talent. 
  • Their roster: Look at which models they represent to get a better sense if they would do a good job managing you. 
  • Recent press or accolades: See if the agency or its staff have been mentioned in the press for anything notable (both positive and negative). 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Become a Model?

The most straightforward way to become a model is to submit your materials to whichever agencies you wish to work with for representation. Agencies may invite you to an in-person casting call or host open calls for anyone to audition. 

Additionally, many of today’s most famous models have been scouted while doing ordinary activities, such as walking through their home cities or traveling on a plane. The most surefire way to get seen, though, is to submit your materials through an agency’s website or by email.  

What Are the Requirements to Get Signed by a Modeling Agency?

Most modeling agencies do not post strict height requirements, but typically, there are height requirements for certain types of modeling. For runway modeling, female-identifying models must be 5 feet, 9 inches or taller and male-identifying models must be at least 6 feet. Height requirements are typically more lenient for commercial and lifestyle modeling. If you are shorter than 5 feet, 8 inches, applying to petite modeling divisions may increase your chances of getting scouted. 

How Much Money Do Models Make?

Model salaries vary widely based on geographic location, how many jobs they take on, and agency fees/commissions. The average salary for models in the U.S. is $125,457 annually. 

What Type of Work Can Models Do?

Models can do numerous types of jobs including but not limited to: commercial modeling, eCommerce modeling, editorial modeling, lifestyle modeling, runway modeling, and print modeling.

Methodology

We researched 20 different modeling agencies and examined each one’s reputation, diversity, portfolio submission process, job placements, and location before making our final selections. Through our research, we found that reputable agencies do not respond to questions about exact fees or job placements. 

As a result, our top picks were chosen based on industry reputation, commitment to talent development, representation, and current roster.

Article Sources

  1. ZipRecruiter. "Model Annual Salary." Accessed June 23, 2021.