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Gisele Bundchen enjoyed 15 years as the world’s highest-earning model, before relinquishing the title to Kendall Jenner when the 23-year-old topped the Forbes‘ annual list. The second youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan made a staggering $22 million last year as a result of numerous campaigns, thanks to a massive social media following and her family reality TV show. The revenue for the Model Agencies industry is expected to increase at an annualized rate of 5.3% to $1.4 billion, with companies like Wilhelmina International Inc. and IMG Models holding the largest market share. While the South African modeling industry may not even be a fraction of this in market size, there is plenty of room to actively participate and grow in revenue for both our models and agency owners.

Rising Star - Tshepiso Da Costa
Kendall Jenner for Off-White RTW Spring 2019

Does the industry have potential?

Earlier this year, prestigious model and talent management agency, Kult Models, gave Business Insider South Africa a list of South African models estimated to earn more than R1 million a year. Yes, as wild as this may sound, this is the reality of some models in SA. “Rates between the girls and guys differ a lot. Top males can command rates starting at R50 000 a day and the girls earn at times double that per day.” The list of high earners included Shaun de Wet (Boss Models), Nicole Meyer (not represented), Jessica Lee Buchanan (Ice Models), Jason Anthony (Kult SA), Charissa du Plessis (Ice Models) and David Rosenberg (Kult SA), while some make as little as R1800 per day, with very little booking demand. Once again, while we may applaud South Africa for enforcing transformational moves by splashing black faces across everything, it’s quite clear that the numbers still do not favour the previously disadvantaged.

Rising Star - Tshepiso Da Costa
Image: Grant McKinlay

Fashion Week scene-stealer

It’s often cool to quip that SA has more fashion weeks than necessary. Having two organisations (AFI and SAFW) host fashion weeks simultaneously, increases the chances for models to generate revenue in this country. One striking face that caught my attention during fashion week and the Woolworths STYLEBYSA show is Tshepiso da Costa. The young mother of 1 is well positioned as the quintessential female model in South-Africa due to her versatile image, balancing her high fashion image with her commercial appeal. Tshepiso was discovered while working at the Rosebank Mall by a premier modeling agency in SA, Ice Models and has since fronted campaigns for Foschini since 2013, bagging some major editorials, from Grazia, True Love to Bona magazine.

Rising Star - Tshepiso Da Costa
Image: Trevor Stuurman

Insta-fame is necessary for bankability

Most of the ‘90s supermodels have been vocal about not being impressed with the new breed of supermodel. Most of the views negatively compare today’s models taking selfies and posting them on Instagram with their 90s counterparts who spent long hours traveling between fashion shows. The truth is, runway work doesn’t pay much even on an international scale. The rise of social media as a marketing channel for brands presents an opportunity for models to diversify their revenue. The selfie-posting models dominate Forbes’ Top 10 Highest earning year on year.

Tshepiso for STYLEBYSA

A Rising Star

The tall and sexy stunner who is married to DJ Black Coffee’s manager, Amaru Da Costa boasts over 37k followers on Instagram and over 18k followers on Twitter. She is one of the few local models that have mastered the art of documenting their lives on social media. However, she doesn’t document her work consistently and that could be a hindrance to potential revenue for her brand outside of ramp and commercial work. Not only is she a talented model, she has a dope aesthetic and could add a different dynamic to the current crop of brand influencers. Dear brands…

Rising Star - Tshepiso Da Costa
Image: Ingrid Alice Irsigler
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