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Are TikTok models becoming the new faces of the fashion industry?

woman in white tank top and blue denim jeans sitting on yellow chair

Young people, who are not making fashion content but were once far from the fashion industry, are now being scouted. After using The Society to discuss his hopes of attending Juilliard, Axel Webber signed a contract with The Society. Although he was not accepted by the school, he has more than 4 million followers on TikTok. He also has a budding modeling and singing career. Khabane Lame became a TikTok celebrity for his silent mocking of complicated life hack videos. Lame, who is now second on TikTok behind Charli D’Amelio, has signed a multi-year contract with Hugo Boss. He walked the runway during Milan Fashion Week’s Boss Show and was a part of a campaign alongside Taylor Hill.

TikTok’s rise to fame is a result of an era of Instagram castings. IMG’s “We Love Your Genes” strategy was used back in 2014 to scout models. Could TikTok be the next big model-scouting platform, surpassing Instagram as the most popular app among teens? Scout Brynne Rosetta, creator of Viral TikTok believes so.

Rosetta told that authenticity is more important in modeling and TikTok allows people to showcase their personal style and personality in a way digitals cannot. “TikTok allows you to quickly access diverse opportunities and experiences. Sometimes it feels like an instant.”

The platform is used by many professional model scouters to share their knowledge and resources about how to be scouted online. Many model calls are posted, along with viral videos showing how to take your own photos and contact information for those who wish to submit the photos. This helps break down the educational barrier that often prevents many aspiring models from getting out there.

Chanel Moye is the digital editor for Models1. She says that they have been using social media to scout models for many years. She says that while TikTok doesn’t change the methods that they use to scout models, it does require a higher level of creativity and social savvy in order to attract the young Gen Z audience she’s looking for. From a TikTok scroll at 3 AM, we scouted a California girl. We had her signed within a year. She’s also now in New York and London. To get their attention, she will often stitch or perform duets with their video.

Models1 recently held their first TikTok model hunt with Lottie London. They received more than 300 entries. The campaign will feature the four winners. Moye believes that TikTok models only have democratized the modeling industry to a limited extent. TikTok has provided aspiring influencers with greater opportunities to discover and be autonomous, but the modeling business, despite being more diverse, still remains controlled by a few gatekeepers. You can look at all the amazing faces you want, but no one is signing them and booking them.

Many models are now influenced by the slow progress of the modeling industry. TikTok can help many models get scouted. Rosetta is able to be scouted not only by agencies but also big brands. While some brands contact Rosetta for more traditional shoots (e.g. flying her out and organizing a crew), many others send products for her to shoot for her TikTok. This is why models who are used to being cast in traditional ways (think go sees and in-person castings), are now flocking to TikTok in order to build their personal brands.

Gabrielle Richardson, a 26-year old model and influencer (@FridaCashFlow Instagram and TikTok), has seen the modeling industry adapt to every new social media platform since her Tumblr career. TikTok is more appealing to her than modeling on Instagram because she has a more raw feeling. “I feel that Instagram has become too performative. TikTok requires you to be vulnerable in order to use it. It evokes Tumblr’s era when social media was all about opportunity and potential.”

TikTok is a great tool for casting models who have previously used Instagram to cast, such as Dylan Miller and Salem Mitchell. It allows them to show off their personalities, as well as casting new models. Miller says that the app is just for fun and doesn’t allow them to become professional content creators. Although I assume that being viral on TikTok helps people get more bookings, it’s still Instagram for me. My TikTok doesn’t give me a high-fashion vibe. Instagram is basically a model’s portfolio. It’s mostly chaotic posting, so it’s not something that a client would immediately see and be like “we must book her!”

Although the app is fun, it can be difficult to be a TikTok model. Miller has experienced transphobia on TikTok. Mitchell claims that she doesn’t mind it, but Miller says it does. Mitchell states that “because it’s taking so much space in this world both online and offline, we are seeing exactly the same thing as with Instagram a few year ago happen all over again.” After her initial viral Instagram post, where people compared her freckles with bananas, Mitchell says that she realized early in her career that social networking can be detrimental to her mental health.

In the 1990s, castings were made at JFK with family (hello Kate Moss), but today you are more likely to cast via social media. This was dominated previously by Instagram. However, TikTok is quickly taking over as the dominant app in model castings. It’s also changing the face and use of social media.

It is clear that bone structure will be an important aspect of any aesthetic-driven industry. The industry’s shift towards TikTok models will make it more democratic, personable and humane. This is because the app demands that you have your own vision and personality in order to stand apart. The app is far from the stereotype of a model who can’t be found, as the new generation of models share their personal stories and recommendations to their fans. Future models can also be scouted by their humor and creative vision, whichever made them viral.

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