Kendall Jenner and the rise of the selfie-created mega model

Are you the next Kendall Jenner? Find out how social media savvy and a little luck can garner international fame.

Today's models, like Karlie Kloss above, use personality and quirk to help connect with their fans.Today's models, like Karlie Kloss above, use personality and quirk to help connect with their fans.Today's models, like Karlie Kloss above, use personality and quirk to help connect with their fans. (Photo: Instagram)

Social media clout and big personalities have been critical in creating a new crop of wildly famous models who are celebrities in their own right. American models like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss, as well as the British "It" girl Cara Delevigne and Israeli beauty Maria Domark, have more than just good looks. They have personalities expressed through social media that have helped them achieve success both in the realm of high fashion and in the commercial world.

“They come with an incredible ability to relate directly to the client and for a lot of the brands, especially the big brands, that is such an extra-incredible opportunity,” Julie Mannion, president of creative services at KCD, who works with major brands on casting and show production, told WWD. “They give instant personality.”

Supermodels like Gisele Bündchen and Kate Moss become household names all while holding the attention of the high fashion world. But as we became increasingly fascinated with celebrity culture, models started vanishing from covers of magazines.

It seems the baton has passed to the next generation of models who are landing magazine cover after magazine cover. These models are accessible, digitally savvy and adept at leveraging their social media channels to propel their careers. "Social media has allowed these girls to have a voice and a platform and not just be some random, anonymous model," Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley told AdWeek.

The added reach of millions of Instagram followers has helped these socially savvy ladies land record-breaking contracts with global brands. Take Domark, for example. She has a quarter of a million Instagram followers and has appeared in magazine spreads as well as other ads for brand names. She now does international work for the Yuli modeling agency in Israel. Hadid counts global beauty giant Maybelline as her biggest contract yet, and in 2015, Jenner became the new face of Estée Lauder and landed a major deal with Calvin Klein. Both Hadid and Jenner were cast for the first time in the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In 2017, Jenner began working with Pepsi on a global brand campaign.

“Hadid is extremely relevant for the millennial consumer, not only because of who she is externally – her beauty, her fashion, her style, her sexiness – but also because she is a girl that has amazing confidence, has amazing drive and is willing to share that with women through social channels," said Leonardo Chavez, Maybelline's global brand president.

Major modeling agencies, like IMG, are even using social media to identify up-and-coming talent. IMG’s "We Love Your Genes," as the program is called, aims to find new faces via the hashtag #WLYG. Potential next "It" girls tag the acronym on a photo, and boom, they're guaranteed to land in front of an agent for consideration. IMG has already signed contracts with a handful of models.

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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Related Topics: Fashion, Social Media