What is a Fit Model and How Do You Become One?

Work Behind The Scenes With Designers and Manufacturers

Fitting model
  Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

You've probably heard of a fit model or might even know someone who works as one. While it might look like an easy job, being a fit model entails more than you probably think. Here's a brief explanation of what exactly a fit model is and how you might become one.

What is a Fit Model?

Generally, a fit model is someone who tries on clothing for fashion designers. They check things like the fit and drape of the fabric, as well as the overall appearance. Fit models are basically live mannequins, who meet specific height, bust-waist-hip, arm, leg, and other measurement requirements.

Types and Categories of Fit Models

There are a variety of types and categories of fit models for men, women, and children. Typically they are: Standard, Contemporary, Misses, Missy, Maternity, Athletic, Full-Figured, Petite, Petite Plus, Swim, Intimates, Urban, Junior, Junior Plus, Tall, and Big & Tall, with new categories being added all the time.

Why Do Designers and Manufacturers Use Fit Models?

When designers and manufacturers make clothing for the consumer market, it is important to use standard sizing with which consumers are familiar. Although a designer may use very tall and thin models when showing their collections on the runway, they know that the buying public can rarely fit into model sizing. Also, it would be much too expensive to hire high fashion models to spend hours in the workroom, so fit models are a more cost-effective choice.

Fit Modeling Requirements

Fit models must have balanced, well-proportioned and symmetrical bodies with standard size measurements for their category. A fit model must be able to clearly verbalize the fit issues they feel in garments which is integral to creating clothing that fits properly. They must able to give accurate and helpful feedback to the designers and technical teams in order to help companies increase sales and decrease return rates. The appearance of the fit model also typically represents the "look" of the client's customer. 

How to Become a Fit Model

Fit models can often have lucrative careers working full-time in cities where there is a large clothing manufacturing industry such as New York, Los Angeles, and Asia. However, smaller markets will also need fit models who can work part-time in addition to their regular modeling or other work. 

The first step to becoming a fit model is to get seen by as many modeling agencies as possible that work with fit models. You can also try contacting manufacturers directly in your area to see if they are hiring fit models and what their requirements may be. Sometimes, people find jobs through ads on Craigslist or sign with an agency who then finds the work and clients for you.

Some of the things you'll need to become a fit model include:

  • Knowledge of fashion trends
  • Flexible schedule to attend
  • Specific body measurements which might vary according to the designer

Once you have a few jobs under your belt, you'll be able to build a portfolio, which can help you get more work in the future. As with many professions, becoming a fit model can sometimes take time and persistence.