Who needs Vogue The new generation of social media-savvy models becoming more famous from Twitter than glossy magazine shoots
Social media is giving a voice to models who, for the most part, have built their careers as pretty, non-speaking faces.
They'll tweet what they had for breakfast, post behind-the-scenes photos on Tumblr and use Facebook to cultivate 'friends' around the world. Tech-savvy fashion followers are eating it up, gaining entry to a world that is so often behind velvet ropes.
'I realized there was an audience interested in what I had to say, not just the images from my work,' said model Coco Rocha, who alternates personal posts and light-hearted titbits with a more businesslike platform to highlight brands and magazines she's shooting for as well as her favourite social and charitable causes.
Social media-savvy: Coco Rocha (left) and Doutzen Kroes (right) have elevated themselves to supermodel status by using forums like Twitter and Facebook
At age 23, Rocha is no longer the new girl in town, but her fan base of more than 200,000 Twitter followers and 66,000 Facebook friends (plus Tumbler, Google Plus and Instagram accounts and blog readers) gives her 'longevity,' she said.
'Because I have a voice and I'm sticking to having that voice, I feel like I have extended my career.'
Name recognition increases a model's value, said Sean Patterson, president of the Wilhelmina agency. Models who become celebrities, online or otherwise, might even help reverse the trend of movie and pop stars with 'relatable' personal stories taking the A-list advertising jobs and magazine covers that used to go to models.
'With fan sites, blogs and Facebook… you can follow a model and know who she is'
With the day of the supermodel over,
models have become more 'interchangeable and disposable,' Patterson
said. But social media may change that by letting models define
themselves: 'With fan sites, blogs and Facebook, all of a sudden you can
follow a model and know who she is.'
Models with online followings can also
create extra buzz for brands they represent. 'I imagine, for example,
that Victoria's Secret likes that Doutzen (Kroes) has so many Twitter
followers and that she tells them, “Watch the Victoria's Secret show I'm
in at 9pm,”' Patterson said.
In addition, social media lets models show the interesting lives they lead off the runway, and it's a way for chatty, likeable personalities to shine. That could tip the balance of who makes it big and who doesn't, said Michael Flutie, of the E! show Scouted.
Public persona: Having a voice on Twitter makes Coco Rocha far more than just a pretty face
'If you have 10 beautiful girls, all
diamonds in the rough to be the next Christy Turlington or Cindy
Crawford, you have to narrow it down somehow and you're going to narrow
it down to the four who can communicate really well digitally,' he said.
Flutie, a veteran agent and manager,
added that being photogenic is no longer the only requirement: 'If you
can't walk and talk, you can't really be a successful ambassador of a
brand. You have to be able to communicate.'
Models should also know how to
Google. There's no excuse for a model with thousands of cyber followers
to not know the name of a company's CEO when she shows up to shoot its
catalogue, Flutie said.
Household names: Nineties supermodels Linda Evangelista (left) and Cindy Crawford (right) didn't get such an opportunity to create their own personas
In the 1990s, Turlington, Crawford and
their pals like Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were
household names, but they didn't get to create their own personas the
way Rocha or Kroes do today. The public got to know those supermodels in
gossip columns and paparazzi photos; this newer generation posts notes
about their yoga poses.
'I started out doing all this as a
fun thing by myself,' said Kroes. 'My big thing was how I could give
back and how I could tell people I was involved in charity, but then I
figured out how it all fits together: I realised I could build my own
'It's the popular group that you're watching from the sidelines that you always wanted to be a part of'
Liane Mullin, co-founder of
Modelinia.com, an online industry hub, notes that models have a lot of
credibility when it comes to posts about 'fashion, beauty, fitness,
nutrition and food. That's what they're experts in. If they recommend a
mascara, they've had it put on them 10,000 times, and I've never worn
that much mascara myself, then I trust her opinion.'
Hearing about their everyday lives is
icing on the cake, she said. 'When you see who their friends are, who
they are getting congratulations from, who is sending birthday wishes,
it's the popular group that you're watching from the sidelines that you
always wanted to be a part of.'
Models also tend to be very active
online once they start. 'They're travelling all over the world,
sometimes with people they don't know, and they're lonely at times.
Social media keeps them company and connected,' Mullins said.
Socially-minded: Model Heide Lindgren has embraced social media to promote the causes she cares about
Model Heide Lindgren wasn't sure about
social media at first. She worried about alienating friends and family,
fans or potential employers. But when she wanted to promote a pet cause,
Models4Water, which supports clean drinking water efforts, doing it
online was the best way. It put her in touch with people in the
renewable energy industry, pet lovers and fashion fans. From there, she
'You can make yourself into more than a model this way… It introduces me to a new audience, and it might be more people seeing my posts than something that's in Vogue,' Lindgren said.
She mentions products occasionally, but not as paid endorsements. She's not sure pitchwoman is the online personality she wants: 'I want it to be 100 per cent real.'
Kroes said she's still trying to strike the right balance in presenting herself as new wife and mother, celebrity and do-gooder. Sometimes, she slips and sends something personal, not thinking about the thousands of people who might be reading her post.
'Sometimes it's scary. I can tweet and 160,000 can see what I'm doing or cooking at home. I forget that because I'm just doing it on my phone, but I'm always trying to reach people in a positive way so I don't think it's a bad thing.'
Rocha is posting more than ever, but she's vowing to self-censor a little after tweeting last month from the U.S. premiere of 'Iron Lady' that she was excited to see Glenn Close. The movie stars Meryl Streep.
'People tweeted back right away: “dumb model”, but it was A LOT of people,' she said. 'When I started, models were booked only for their cheekbones.
'Now I think I get bookings because people will say they respect me, or we stand for the same things, or they think what I have to say is interesting. It's better to hear that than just, “You have gorgeous cheekbone structure.”'