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The Contracting Catwalk: When Negotiating Becomes a Runway of Emotions

As glamorous as the fashion industry may seem from the outside, the reality for models can often be quite different. While walking the runway and posing for the camera may be thrilling, the behind-the-scenes process of securing contracts and negotiating deals can be incredibly stressful and emotionally taxing. In this article, we’ll explore the unique challenges that fashion models face when it comes to contracting, and offer some tips for navigating the process with more ease and confidence.

One of the biggest challenges that models face when it comes to contracting is the lack of transparency in the industry. Many models work as independent contractors, which means that they are responsible for negotiating their own contracts and fees, and doing so several times a year, a month, or even a week. This can be extremely daunting, and each contract is starting over from zero. The contracting language is a huge factor in this problem — the documents are full of verbose legalese which creates a ‘needle in the haystack’ situation, where the needle is the core point or right you are giving in the clause, and the haystack is all the ‘hereinafter’ and ‘ab initio.’ This makes it near impossible to identify problematic clauses or terms. On top of it, even if one does manage to find the proverbial needle, knowing if it is fair or standard is another battle entirely.

Another challenge is the power dynamic between models and the companies they work for. Fashion brands and agencies often hold a significant amount of social power in these negotiations, which can make it difficult for models to advocate for themselves and their interests. For example, a model may be pressured to accept lower pay or less favorable working conditions in order to secure a coveted job or contract. There is a common notion and unspoken threat of models being labeled ‘difficult’ for asking for more time, seeking legal advice, or negotiating their terms. These power dynamics are a part of playing into a culture of fear and intimidation within the industry. Models may feel hesitant to speak up for fear of jeopardizing their career or reputation. This can be particularly difficult for models who are still trying to establish themselves in the industry and may feel that they have to accept whatever terms are offered to them in order to succeed.

All of these factors can add up to a stressful and emotionally taxing experience for models. Many models might feel anxious, overwhelmed, and even depressed as a result of the contracting process. This can take a toll on their mental health and well-being, as well as their ability to perform at their best on the job.

However, if there is one thing to takeaway from this article it’s this: modeling is a job, agencies and brands are professional work institutions, negotiating is normal. There should not be push back to the negotiating process (of course, there may be push back to the terms, but that’s a different article). Models and brands, and models and agencies have work relationships, despite being called your ‘mother’ agent — they are not family. You can and should ask questions, and if you get threatened or told you are being difficult, it may be a sign that this is not the right agency for you. If someone who will be in charge of your career and financial security is not willing to help you understand the very first step, they will not be on your side further down the line.

So now that we have established the problem, what can models do to make the contracting process less stressful and more manageable? Here are a few tips:

  • Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about the legal and financial aspects of the industry, so that you can negotiate with confidence and clarity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek the advice of a lawyer or financial professional.

  • Advocate for yourself: Remember that you are your own best advocate. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want and deserve. Be firm but respectful in your negotiations, and be willing to walk away from deals that don’t meet your needs.

  • Build a support network: Surround yourself with people who can offer emotional support and guidance throughout the contracting process. This could include fellow models, mentors, or industry professionals who have been through similar experiences.

  • Take care of yourself: Don’t let the stress of the contracting process take a toll on your mental and physical health. Take breaks when you need them, and make time for self-care activities that help you feel calm and centered. One hour or one day won’t be the make or break for your career, go on that walk, think it through, and make sure you are in the headspace to sign that dotted line.

The contracting process is a very important but high stress part of working as a fashion model, but it does not have to be. The emotional toll it takes on the workforce leads to an increase in the ‘just sign’ mentality which increases the chances of more problematic clauses. Most 18 year olds are not signing contracts worth tens — if not — hundreds of thousands of dollars, or three year exclusive rights over their own Name, Image, and Likeness; but, for fashion models, this is the case and they don’t have the resources to help them through this process safely. By taking the time to mentally prepare yourself, know what you are worth, and leverage your own support networks, you can reduce the mental burden this process imposes.

If you have any questions about brand endorsements, contracts, or our products, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at We’d love to help you navigate these important topics. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram at @kaveatapp and check out our website at If you’re interested in testing our beta for all your contract needs, you can find it at We look forward to connecting with you!

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