Who needs a catwalk The models finding fame (and fortune) on China's answer to eBay, by posing in up to 200 outfits a day



07:03 GMT, 5 September 2012

A growing number of models in China are finding fame on online shopping websites, getting paid up to $1,600 a day.

Tian Yuan Yuan, 22, is one of the country's top internet models, and helps to sell thousands of fashion products through consumer-to-consumer online retail platforms similar to eBay.

Sites feature a ranking system which rates the girls according to how many sales they generate, as well as their popularity among vendors and consumers.

Internet models

Internet models

Internet models

Growing trend: Taobao.com provides a models-for-hire service, which allows vendors to choose the models they want to promote their merchandise – many of the models can earn up to $1,600 a day

Retailers can also hire girls who they think will most successfully promote their merchandise.

Tian is one of around 35,000 models who pose in more than 200 outfits a day for Taobao, the biggest site.

With little to differentiate between more than 6 million virtual storefronts, the women promoting the products have become the main attraction.

Talking about her career as an internet model Tian said: 'A
good model is important for sales.

'Both your facial expression and body
language should match the style of clothing. For example, I will move
and pose gently with office dresses, while I act cool in American style

Main attraction: Taobao.com provides vendors with a models-for-hire service

Main attraction: Taobao.com provides vendors with a models-for-hire service

A pair of leggings she modelled sold
around 14,000 units in a single month and she also helped shift more than
6,000 rabbit fur bags.

The models can make as much as 10,000 yuan ($1,600) a day, which is a generous sum considering average per capita full-year income for urban Chinese was just 21,810 yuan ($3,435) in 2011.

Huang Shanlei, who sells lingerie via Taobao said she finds the website's models-for-hire service useful as there is more choice compared to traditional modelling agencies.

good model is important for sales. Both your facial expression and body
language should match the style of clothing'

'I used to rely on models provided by modelling agencies but because each agency has only a limited number of models, it couldn't meet my business needs,' she said.

And some traditional modeling agencies admit that Taobao's system is the way forward.

'We are searching online from this
year and in fact we believe this trend will be the future,' added David
Lim, deputy chief executive of model agency Elite Greater China.

China's e-commerce industry is set to become the world's largest by 2015, according to Boston Consulting Group.

The Alibaba Group, Taobao's parent company doesn't disclose transaction figures, but its sister platform, Taobao Mall, which caters to larger businesses, is set for more than 200 billion yuan ($31.45 billion) worth of products traded this year, with clothes making up around 30 per cent.