For International models in India

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This information will be more useful to already professional models who want to go for a contract to India. In this article will be used some professional terminology.

Modeling in India, especially in Delhi, is quite different from this business in another countries. And here is how:

  • Yes, yes, of course, here is a lot of work for shoots and sometimes fashion shows for Indian clothes! Posing and walking in these clothes has some specifics which you will learn when you will come here. Unfortunately, it is not the fact that photos in Indian clothes (and sometimes other photos from India) will be useful for you to work in other countries, because usually they are commercial here, and not always of what is considered a good quality in another countries + Indian make-up can age some of the models which not every market will like as well. But such photos seem to form a separate portfolio for India – really many models come back here (which may seem like a vicious circle to someone: they aren’t able to go anywhere else with Indian photos, so have to come back to India, but someone comes back here just because they like working in India). It’s not like you don’t have a chance to work with good photographers and brands in India and get photos suitable for other countries. But for that, having a good, reputed agency is highly recommended and not there is too many of such agencies;
“Imelda” jeans catalog
  • It is easy to go to India for your first contract. In fact, most of the International models here are the beginners. It’s often possible in India to even get a guarantee contract at your first contract abroad and without having a strong portfolio. The main requirement here is to have a face type that suits the market: a cute, but not a baby face (unlike in China and Japan), or sexy type (here are really many lingerie shoots happen, so they also like models with a big bust more). But models with strong or strange, high-fashion types of faces which are valued in many countries, aren’t preferred in India (it’s almost impossible to meet them here). Also, it is advisable not to be too thin if you want to work as a model here (yes, you read it right, and I know, if you are a professional model, you are shocked). This requirement works for both, male and female models. Let’s say a female model with the hips 86-87 cm, which has a great opportunities somewhere in Europe or Japan, in India will work much less than a girl with 91-93 cm hips (fashion industry here is partially trying to adjust to local beauty standards), even if she isn’t tall. Skinny male models also aren’t advised to come here but somewhere else: in India they should have muscular bodies (but not too much, they shouldn’t look like bodybuilders). Female models with the hips of 95-97 cm can be found here too, but such measurements already can be a problem, although not always, but sometimes you might be just unable to fit in the clothes (especially if your agency lies with your measurements a lot – although you’re unlikely to be sent home for that, like it happens in another countries, and might even have a lot of work with the problems just sometimes). By the way, the Indian market is also not very picky about heights of the models – a lot of female models here work with the heights of 167-172 cm, and they can be the “stars” here (yes, and with such heights they aren’t expected to be skinnier, also 90-93 cm hips preferably, because the clothes on the shoots in India is often quite big and have to be adjusted with clips). For male models it’s more strict about the heights though, for international models at least, local male models can be shorter than usual modeling height too;
  • Also, it is rare to find teenage models in India, especially 13-15 years old, but even 16-17. But you can easily work in India if you are a 23-25 ​​years old female model, sometimes even if you are 27-30. In general, you understand why the models come back here – you can easily get a guarantee contract here when you have gained weight, for example, or you are not at all suitable for other countries;
  • Freckles, so adored in European countries, are not liked by Indians. In India, some people aren’t educated, and therefore they can have weird stereotypes in their minds. So, sometimes even in the fashion industry, you can meet people who disrespectfully talk about freckles, considering them, for example, a skin disease – simply because Indians do not have freckles;
  • Indians love posing with the smiles, elegant or sexy posing, and if fashion posing, then cool. They do not like “angry” or “tired” kind of face expressions, which can be valued in posing in other countries;
“The Vanca” catalog
Maxim magazine shoot
  • Models in India need to be able to pose well from the first click. It all because the majority of the work here is for online-catalogs (in Mumbai they are still not the majority, but in Delhi and Bangalore they are the main work) with 70-100, and sometimes more, outfits per day. The reason for it is that online shopping is very common in India. The most famous online-shopping web-sites (for examples of posing) are:,,,, but there are many others. Posing for online-catalogs is simpler, but the amount of changes is usually not easy for inexperienced models. But, of course, there are other types of work where more creative poses are required from the models – although, I will admit, you can start missing them in India if you are the e-commerce type of ф model or your agency doesn’t really have other types of work…;
Meena Bazaar, online-catalogue
  • Fashion shows in India are also very different: here each model can have 7-15 entries, and not simple straight ones. They all can be very different too;
  • Prices for work in Delhi are lower than in most of other modelling markets. But then, there is a lot of work and it is taken in quantity. In Mumbai, prices are higher, but the competition is much bigger too. At the same time, competition between the agencies and the studios continues to lower the prices. Therefore, earning a lot in India is complicated, after expenses not much can be left for you even if you have worked every day. But if you take expensive campaigns, it’s real;
  • Customers in India, especially in Delhi, remember the models very well. You may be remembered even if you have not come to India for 3 years. It all because the clients (studios and photographers) are basically the same and they need models all the time. Even if the model changes the agency, the same customers often continue to book her/ him – many agencies here have almost the same clients. However, no one here likes when a model changes the agency. Well, another reason of people here remembering you well, is that the Indians are quite sociable people, who, moreover, know English well. It is likely that they will want to add you on social media and try to communicate with you later for a long time;
  • Agencies in Delhi do not need to look for EVERY new job and usually do not need to bring models to the casting to the same people EVERY time. There are not that many castings here and more direct booking jobs, unlike in some other countries. In Mumbai, however, castings are more frequent, but also happen not as often as in many other countries;
The Lodhi hotel campaign
  • Some people here, unfortunately, believe that opening a model agency is very easy. They think that it required just a few basic contacts with the studios and online-shopping websites, and some money for the tickets to models, that’s all. Such thoughts are often enlisted even by the drivers in agencies. Or, for example, some make-up artists which didn’t even know me too well, were writing me on Facebook asking how to open an agency. Of course, such people are not right in that it is easy to open an agency, because they usually do not know many professional aspects of the modeling business and make many mistakes. Most of the beginning modeling agencies here can hardly be considered good and the models constantly complain about them. Before going to India, I STRONGLY recommend asking the models that have already been here about your inviting agency. There are more bad agencies than on another markets, even in Asia, unfortunately;
  • Agencies in Delhi usually have very strong control over models: they prohibit them going out after a certain time in the evening (sometimes 10-11 PM, but sometimes it can be even 7 PM), they ask them to tell where exactly the models go during the day, they do not allow them to meet with unknown Indians, or to have relationships. Someone may also prohibit adding Indians on social media (I have heard about one such agency). Often they also put a manager to stay with the models. Some of them also believe that the models can pretend that they are sick to skip work. The reason for this all is the safety problems in the country, especially in Delhi, as well as the fact that in Indian mentality is normal to focus on fears a lot. But in Mumbai, agencies usually give the models more freedom than in Delhi, because Mumbai is considered a safer city. Nevertheless, the agencies there also can be different;
  • Indian local models are often arrogant. They are often called “supermodels” at the local fashion industry level, even if they never worked abroad. Some foreign models that did not work in other countries, sometimes too borrow this behavior (even if one of the photographers called them “supermodels” just). As for local models, it also happens that they experience some aggression towards international models, believing that foreigners take away their work (not knowing on what financial conditions international models actually work here).
One of my old modeling works

Cover picture: Parul J catalogue

Overall, India is a good market but not suitable for everyone, very different from the other markets and your modeling experience in the country highly depends on the level of the agency you are going to work with.

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