Why Stetts Was Started: The Ugly Side of The Modeling Industry

A word from the founder on her experience in the modeling industry and why Stetts was started:

After fit modeling for over a decade, I had experienced the good and the bad of the modeling industry. The good included the high paying jobs working with well-known designers, and having a flexible schedule that never included a desk or the 9-5 grind. The bad came not just from the aspect of rejection you encounter with this line of work, but also the questionable practices of modeling agencies. Young girls are expected to trust their agencies to get them work, pay them for that work, and have their best interests in mind. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Since models are classified as independent contractors, there can often be a lack of accountability and transparency when it comes to paying girls for money owed and charges for things like being featured on the agency website ($600/year for some agencies), and things like head shots, portfolio, and messenger/fedex charges (who messengers anything these days?)

Since models are fearful of causing problems with their bookers, who can often be biased and cultivate the attitude that girls should just be grateful to be represented, nothing is said. Models will wait sometimes 90 plus days to get paid for jobs – even jobs that the agency was already paid for. It is also not unheard of for agencies to charge a fee (usually 5%) if a model requests to be advanced their money to pay their bills. Add this to the countless "fees" that seem to be unavoidable, and it's easy to see why it's hard for some models to make any real money.

I realized that something really needed to change when I spent the first of my three-year contract with my (big name) modeling agency and made roughly $20k in the year – not nearly enough to live in NYC - and I requested to be let out of my contract. I was told that they would not release me from my contract, but they would remove me from the system and allow me to pursue other (non modeling) ventures without incurring any further charges from them. They ensured me that I would still be booked for jobs if I was requested, and would still send me out for anything I was right for – which was their legal obligation by keeping me in a contract that was essentially not benefitting me in any way whatsoever. 

You can imagine my surprise when not even a week later, I get a call from a long time client letting me know that they had attempted to book me, and were told that I was no longer represented by the agency. They were even sent a package of other girls to look at to replace me. Not only was this completely illegal, but the most unprofessional and shady practice I could imagine. Keeping me in a contract but not allowing me to work since I was no longer paying the fees of the agency was appalling, and a very clear example of why something has to change. 

This is why Stetts was formed. I wanted the opportunity to create a company that operated in a very transparent manner. The company charges the industry standard 20% commission, and in return we take on the costs of the website, photos, and anything else that helps to market our models. This not only communicates that we are truly invested in their success, but is also just the right thing to do. Models are also paid as soon as the money rolls in from the clients, and no fees are charged when money is forwarded because models need to pay their bills. The models represented by Stetts know that they are supported, and if they aren’t working, they are not kept in a contract that is unable to serve them. 

Are we doing something revolutionary in the modeling industry? No, but I can’t help but feel that in having the right intentions and being trustworthy in a world where models are left feeling helpless and taken advantage of – perhaps other agencies will be encouraged to create a similar environment. I'm quickly learning that when you operate a business with good intentions for others, and not just for yourself - you're bound to be successful. 

Watch Ashley's interview on Good Morning America speaking about the dark side of the modeling industry here.




A look back at the start of arbitrary sizing

A repost from Time Magazine on how American sizing came to be. Luckily brands employ fit models these days to help cater to their customers, or there's no way we could ever shop online (gasp!)

In the world of women’s clothing, a 4 is a 2 is a 6. Everything is relative — unless, of course, you’re shopping in Brandy Melville’s teen-“friendly” SoHo store, where the only size is small. (“One-size” reads labels that don’t even bother with the usual “fits all” addendum.)

One of the most infuriating American pastimes occurs within the confines of a dressing room. But where do these seemingly arbitrary sizes come from? Sit down, unbutton your pants and enjoy a condensed briefing on women’s clothing measurements:

“True sizing standards didn’t develop until the 1940’s,” says Lynn Boorady, fashion and textile technology chair and associate professor at Buffalo State University. “Before then sizes for young ladies and children were all based on age — so a size 16 would be for a 16-year-old — and for women it was about bust measurement.”

Suffice it to say, assuming all 13-year-old girls and 36-in.-bust women were created equal proved problematic. “Mostly it was assumed that the women in the house would know how to sew,” Boorady says.

But consumers — and the booming catalog industry, which proliferated as Americans moved to more rural areas — were ready for change. In a 1939 article titled “No Boondoggling,” TIME explored the Department of Agriculture’s effort to standardize women’s clothes, an effort that had been inspired by the fact that U.S. manufacturers guessed it was costing them $10 million a year not to have set sizes. “Each subject — matron, maid, scrubwoman, show girl — will be [measured] in 59 different places,” the article read.

The data of 15,000 women was collected by Ruth O’Brien and William Shelton, and while the project was impressive — “especially considering they didn’t have computers to analyze the data,” Boorady says — it didn’t exactly solve the problem.

“It was flawed for many reasons,” agrees Parsons School of Fashion professor Beth Dincuff Charleston. “They didn’t really get a cross-section of American women… It was smaller than what the national average should be.”

Since the survey was done on a volunteer basis, it was largely made up of women of a lower socioeconomic status who needed the participation fee. It was also primarily white women. And the measurements still primarily relied on bust size, assuming women had an hourglass figure.

Then in the late 1940s, the Mail-Order Association of America, representing catalog businesses including Sears Roebuck, enlisted the help of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) to reanalyze the sizing — often using the measurements of women who had served in the air force, some of the most fit people in the country — creating a 1958 standard that was largely arbitrary. Sizes ranged from 8 to 38 with height indications of tall (T), regular (R), and short (S), and a plus or minus sign when referring to girth.

There was no size zero, let alone the triple zeroes that sometimes are displayed in stores today.

As American girth increased, so did egos. And thus began the practice of vanity sizing. Over the decades, government size guidelines were heeded less and less, items of clothing began getting marked with lower numbers and eventually, in 1983, the Department of Commerce withdrew its commercial women’s clothing size standard altogether. A private organization called ASTM International began publishing its own sizing tables in 1995.

According to Slate:

In 1958, for example, a size 8 corresponded with a bust of 31 inches, a waist of 23.5 inches and a hip girth of 32.5 inches. In ASTM’s 2008 standards, a size 8 had increased by five to six inches in each of those three measurements, becoming the rough equivalent of a size 14 or 16 in 1958. We can see size inflation happening over shorter time spans as well; a size 2 in the 2011 ASTM standard falls between a 1995 standard size 4 and 6.

That means that ideals are changing too, Boorady adds: “We went from size 16 being a model in the ’40s to 12 in the ’60s. Marilyn Monroe was a 12 in the ’60s, which would now be a size 6.”

Now, stores often size based on their own preferences, which can make for frustrating online shopping experiences — modern-day catalog browsing — unless you already know your exact size.

But are we doomed to a future of sizing confusion? Maybe not. Parsons’ Dincuff Charleston notes that new technologies might be welcoming a new era of customized clothing. “Body measurements are so advanced now — with 3-D scanning, digital changing rooms — I think that people will have options for better fitting clothing,” she says. “And with 3-D printers, maybe you’ll be printing your own clothing.”

Source: http://time.com/3532014/women-clothing-siz...

What is a fit model?

Most people have never heard of fit modeling or have any idea of what it actually entails. 

Fit models are the reason that your shirt doesn't grab you underneath your armpits. They are the reason you don't get camel toe, and the reason you look so damn good in that blazer. A fit model  is hired by a designer because they have the body measurements and proportions that fit an industry standard. They are chosen because their body best represents that brands customer, and an entire line is put on this body to ensure that it fits correctly before being mass produced. 

The duty of a fit model is to not only stay the same size (that's right, self constraint and the love of exercise are good qualities to have), but to also understand how a garment is supposed to fit. A good fit model will be able to communicate what needs to happen in order for a piece of clothing to fit more comfortably, and a great fit model is also someone who tech designers enjoy working with. Many models will stay working with a company for years, and this has the potential to become a very lucrative and rewarding career. 

Who can be a fit model?

Having the ability to work as a fit model really comes down to having the right body. Designers like to fit on a body that is about 5'8" tall, with good posture and proportions. What does that mean? Generally, a proportional body will have approximately 3" difference between bust (chest) and low hip (butt), and 10" difference between waist and low hip. So for a standard size 4, the measurements would be 34 bust, 27 waist, 37 hip. There are very few people out there who are perfectly proportionate, but that is why fit modeling has the potential to be high income job option. 

Although higher end brands tend to fit on a size 4, more mainstream brands like to fit on a size 6 or 8, so more of an average sized person. You don't have to be a model to be a fit model - you just have to have the ability to stay the same size (pretty much forever), the ability to stand on your feet for long stretches of time, and a flexible schedule. Having a great personality and always being professional are both added bonuses that will help your fit career. 

Think you have what it takes? Shoot us an email and let us check out that body (in a non creepy way).