What is a Fit Model and Do You How To Become One?

Work Behind The Scenes With Designers & Manufacturers

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Fit Model at Work. Fit Model Hannah Johnson with Designer Tian Justman

What is a Fit Model?

Wikipedia provides one of the most comprehensive definitions:

“A fitting model (sometimes fit model) is a person who is used by a fashion designer or clothing manufacturer to check the fit, drape and visual appearance of a design on a ‘real’ human being, effectively acting as a live mannequin. A person is selected to work as a fitting model primarily on criteria matching the desired measurement specifications of the designer or manufacturer. These specifications generally consist of height, bust-waist-hip circumference, arm and leg length, shoulder width, and a myriad of other measurements as indicated by the garment type. This is the case whether the garments are for women or men of any size; the grading of construction patterns is often tested on a variety of fitting models to be sure that increases in size are translated accurately and evenly across the range. Beyond merely wearing the garment for inspection, a fitting model can become an integral role in the design process; commenting on garments and materials with regards to fit, movement and feel on flesh and objective feedback on the ‘fit’ and design of the garment in the stead of the consumer. Ultimately, a fitting model aids in confirming that the sizing, design, and cut of the garment to be produced meets the designer’s specifications and intentions.  Depending on the brand and demographic of their customer sometimes the brand has more than one fit."

Types and Categories of Fit Models

There are a variety of types and categories of fit models for men, women, and children.  Typically they are:  Standard, Contemporary, Misses, Missy, Maternity, Athletic, Full-Figured, Petite, Petite Plus, Swim, Intimates, Urban, Junior, Junior Plus, Tall, and Big & Tall, with new categories being added all the time.

Why Do Designers and Manufacturers Use Fit Models?

When designers and manufacturers make clothing for the consumer market it is important to use standard sizing with which consumers are familiar. Although a designer may use very tall and thin models when showing their collections on the runway, they know that the buying public can rarely fit into model sizing.  Also, it would be much too expensive to hire high fashion models to spend hours in the workroom, so fit models are a more cost-effective choice.

Fit Modeling Requirements

Fit models must have balanced, well-proportioned and symmetrical bodies with standard size measurements for their category.

  A fit model must be able to clearly verbalize the fit issues they feel in garments which is integral to creating clothing that fits properly. They must able to give accurate and helpful feedback to the designers and technical teams in order to help companies increase sales and decrease return rates.

The appearance of the fit model also typically represents the "look" of the client's customer.  

How to Become a Fit Model

Fit models can often have lucrative careers working full-time in cities where there is a large clothing manufacturing industry such as New York, Los Angeles, and Asia.  However, smaller markets will also have a need for fit models who can work part-time in addition to their regular modeling or other work. 

The first step to becoming a fit model is to get seen by as many modeling agencies as possible that work with fit models.  You can also try contacting manufacturers directly in your area to see if they are hiring fit models and what their requirements may be.