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The Difference Between a Supermodel and Model

The Difference Between a Supermodel and Model

Fashion modeling is a profession with a hierarchy encompassing a range of roles and statuses. At its core, this hierarchy differentiates between models and supermodels. While sharing some similarities, each category possesses unique characteristics and roles within the fashion industry.

The Role of a Model

The Role of a Model

A model’s primary function is to showcase, advertise, and promote commercial products, particularly fashion clothing. They are essential in magazines, runway shows, and advertising campaigns. The industry requires models to possess specific physical attributes, including height, body measurements, and facial features. Fitness, energy, reliability, organization, punctuality, confidence, and resilience are additional attributes that models are expected to exhibit. Models operate in various niches. These include catalog modeling, parts modeling, glamour modeling, and fitness modeling. Their recognition often remains confined within the fashion industry, and they may not become widely known to the general public.

The Role of a Supermodel

The Role of a Supermodel

Supermodels, conversely, are highly paid professionals who have achieved fame and recognition extending beyond the fashion industry. They often become household names, garnering significant media presence. This status can lead to various endorsements and business ventures. Supermodels are distinguished by their unique looks, charisma, personality, and an ability to captivate through photographs. They usually exhibit a “Type A” personality, characterized by motivation and determination. Historically, the term “supermodel” emerged in the 1940s and gained prominence in the 1980s. Iconic figures such as Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista epitomized the supermodel status in the 1990s, known for commanding high market values and extensive work offers.

Key Differences Between Models and Supermodels

Key Differences Between Models and Supermodels

Fame and Recognition

Supermodels, due to their widespread recognition, often become familiar figures to people unconnected to the fashion industry. This level of fame is typically a result of their work, public appearances, and media coverage. Models, while they may be recognized and respected within fashion circles, usually do not achieve the same level of public recognition. Their work, although important to the industry, does not typically place them in the public eye to the same extent.


The earnings gap between supermodels and models is a reflection of their differing statuses. Supermodels, due to their fame and high-profile nature, attract large-scale contracts, often encompassing endorsements and partnerships with major brands. These contracts are not just for modeling work but may also include public appearances, speaking engagements, and endorsements, contributing to a significantly higher income compared to typical fashion models. Models, while they can earn respectable incomes, especially with experience and in certain markets, generally do not have access to the same level of high-paying opportunities.

Media Presence

Supermodels’ media presence extends far beyond the runway and fashion shoots. They are regular features on the covers of leading magazines, in major advertising campaigns, and in high-profile editorial shoots. This media presence often transcends the fashion industry, with supermodels appearing in mainstream media outlets, including television shows, films, and digital media platforms. Models, although they may appear in magazines and ad campaigns, typically do not have the same level of omnipresence in various media forms.

Personal Brand

Building and maintaining a strong personal brand is often a key aspect of a supermodel’s career. This brand extends beyond their physical appearance to include their personality, public persona, and personal interests. Supermodels leverage their brand to explore opportunities outside of modeling, such as acting, hosting television shows, engaging in charitable activities, or launching their own product lines. In contrast, models may focus more on their modeling work and have less emphasis on building a broad personal brand.

Physical Attributes

Both models and supermodels are required to meet specific physical standards set by the fashion industry. However, supermodels often possess unique, distinctive, or exotic looks that set them apart and contribute to their fame and brand. These attributes can include not just body shape and facial features but also a certain charisma or presence that resonates in photographs and on the runway.


The lifestyle of a supermodel is typically more public and high-profile compared to that of a model. Supermodels’ lives, including their professional engagements, personal life, and even daily activities, often receive significant media attention and public interest. This public lifestyle can influence their brand and career opportunities. In contrast, models usually have more privacy, with less of their personal and professional lives being subject to public scrutiny.

Supermodel vs Model: Difference in Earnings

Supermodel vs Model - Difference in Earnings

Earnings Variability in Fashion Models

Earnings among fashion models vary widely. While one source indicates an average salary of around $167,104 in the United States, spanning from $53,000 to $525,000 annually, another suggests a lower average of $54,826, with a typical range between $45,180 and $66,940. This variation underscores the industry’s dynamic nature, where factors like the prestige of modeling gigs, a model’s experience, and the demand for their specific look play vital roles in determining income.

Commercial Models’ Income

Commercial models, who primarily engage in advertising for various products and services, experience different pay scales. In smaller markets, they can earn between $25 to $75 per hour. This rate can escalate to $125 to $175 per hour for specific assignments like magazine, newspaper, and brochure advertisements. Factors like market size and the model’s individual experience contribute to these varying rates.

The High Earnings of Supermodels

Supermodels, recognized globally and often considered celebrities, enjoy significantly higher earnings. For instance, Kendall Jenner’s 2021 earnings amounted to $40 million, positioning her among the top-paid models. Other notable earners include Liu Wen with $19 million and Gigi Hadid with $9 million. These figures incorporate not just earnings from modeling assignments but also from endorsements, licensing deals, and social media partnerships, which often constitute a major portion of a supermodel’s income.

Influential Factors on Model Earnings

A variety of elements influence a model’s earnings:

  • Experience and Age: More experienced models generally command higher wages. Age often correlates with experience, affecting income levels.
  • Gender: There is a noted discrepancy in earnings between female and male models, with females typically earning more.
  • Location: Models based in major fashion capitals or working in upscale markets usually receive higher compensation.
  • Agency Representation: Representation by prominent agencies with strong connections in the industry can lead to more lucrative opportunities.
  • Work Volume: The quantity of work undertaken by a model can significantly impact their annual income.
  • Additional Costs: Expenses such as travel and accommodations, often necessary for a modeling career, are usually deducted from a model’s earnings.


In summary, while the terms “model” and “supermodel” are used interchangeably, they represent different tiers within the fashion modeling industry. The distinction between these roles is marked by differences in fame, earnings, media presence, personal branding, physical attributes, and lifestyle. Understanding these differences provides insight into the complex dynamics and hierarchy of the fashion modeling world.