Updated: Nov 15
By Ashlyn Robinette
Fashion’s “first digital model,” Coco Rocha, continues to use digital and social media for brand-building and model advocacy. Rocha is credited as one of the first in her profession to utilize social media to give models a voice by speaking out about predators and eating disorders in the fashion industry. This year, Rocha turned to TikTok to expand her audience.
Supermodel Rocha boasts 1.5 M followers on Instagram while her TikTok is close behind with 757.6 K followers and 22.2 M likes on her videos alone. Rocha is a mother of two with another on the way and was scouted at an Irish dance competition in Canada when she was just 14-years- old and has since then modeled for over 15 years.
She has worked with all of fashion’s biggest players and modeled for brands like Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, Fendi, Prada, Balenciaga, Hermes, Givenchy, and more. She is now known for sharing her experiences with others.
Rocha, referred to as “queen of pose” by supermodel Tyra Banks, is best known for her theatrical poses. She released a book titled “Study of Pose” with over 1,000 poses and has taught models like Kendall Jenner how to pose. She also founded the Coco Rocha Model Camp, a multi-day master class for female models and photographers.
Rocha also has founded her own model and talent management company, NOMAD MGMT. On NOMAD’s website, Rocha claims that “In the past, I’ve publicly appealed to industry leaders regarding the ethical treatment of underage models, transparent agency accounting practices and regarding pressures and unhealthy expectations too often projected on models working today,” so she decided to create an agency by models, for models ensuring that the model does come first.
On TikTok, Rocha posts about her life, behind the scenes content from fashion shows and shoots, runway throwbacks, high fashion modeling, commercial modeling, how to pose with positive and negative space, and even what it’s like shooting a Vogue cover pregnant during a pandemic. Recently, she’s started a new series of videos on TikTok where she addresses model myths. Here are a few key takeaways:
Models make a lot of money
It’s a common misconception that all models are rich, especially if you’ve seen the income of supermodels like Gisele Bundchen and Gigi Hadid. To further this misbelief, supermodel Linda Evangelista famously told Vogue, “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”
Realistically, the vast majority of models are not millionaires. According to Rocha, “Every year Forbes lists the world’s highest-paid supermodels. In the last US Census, the average yearly income for models was $18,000. Fashion’s main event, Fashion Week, is not going to add to that, bottom line. A fashion show could pay you a few hundred dollars- if you’re lucky- but most designers pay in clothing, not cash.
“One early year after walking for almost every major fashion house, I was $40,000 in debt,” says Rocha.
High fashion is good. Commercial is bad.
Generally, the public assumes that more money is earned with prestigious high fashion clients than with lower price commercial clients. According to Rocha, “The truth is very different. The more prestigious the brand, the less money you will earn.” This is because typically you need them more than they need you. Rocha says that “booking the cover of a well-respected fashion magazine will only earn you enough to pay your cab ride to and from the studio but not much more.” So when and how do models make money?
Rocha said that the highest fashion models have to start in the world of commercial modeling because “they need to save money and for the mainstream clients to pay their rent.” Yet, “if that same model does too much commercial work then the high fashion world might no longer want her and of course, commercial clients follow.” So, it’s a constant balancing act between high fashion and commercial modeling.
You can’t model if you’re under 5’9”
While most modeling agencies do look for taller models for runway and high fashion, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be signed. There are actually quite a few supermodels who are below 5’9” such as:
Cara Delevingne 5’8”
Kate Moss 5’7”
Emily Ratajkowski 5’7”
Devon Aoki 5’5”
Anja Konstantinova 5’4”
Lily Rose-Depp 5’3”
Amina Blue 5’1”
As for commercial modeling, there is no age, height, or weight restriction. Agencies look for diverse beauty.
For more modeling tips and information, follow Coco Rocha on TikTok.
Reach the writer on Instagram