Chinese models begin to dominate nation's catwalks

By Zhou Wenting | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-22 08:09

Chinese models begin to dominate nation's catwalks

Foreign models strut on a catwalk in a fashion show in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region this month. [Photo by Zheng Huansong/Xinhua]

Foreign faces no longer have the edge in the domestic modeling scene.

In the eight years he has spent in China as a professional model, Alexandr Pozhar has witnessed major changes in the domestic industry.

When he first arrived in Shanghai, eight to 10 foreign models usually attended each casting session, but now there are scores of them, according to the 30-year-old Ukrainian-Russian dual national.

"If it's a large-scale casting, maybe 300 models will join the first round of competition. About 20 will then be chosen to go through to the next round, and at the end of the day, after several more rounds, the client will choose the winner," said Pozhar, who has a decade of experience on the catwalk and fashion shoots.

"Most candidates who stand in line for the client just hear 'OK, thanks, bye-bye' within just a few minutes of joining the line."

In addition to capricious clients, Pozhar and his foreign peers face another challenge. They are losing opportunities as a result of many clients' growing preferences for local faces, a result of a growing appreciation of fashion among Chinese customers and the rising international status of domestic models, allied to their distinctive looks which can draw target audiences.

"Foreign models no longer enjoy an absolute advantage over their Chinese counterparts. The line between foreign and domestic models is not so obvious anymore," said Zheng Yi, president of Esee Model Management in Shanghai, one of the largest modeling agencies in China.

"Once living expenses and travel costs are included, there are almost no differences between the incomes the two groups can earn," he said, noting that most young models can make between 10,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan ($1,500-3,000) a month.

However, the new reality hasn't stopped foreign models, including those with vast experience, from coming to China in the hope of finding work in the domestic market, which offers a greater range of opportunities than any other Asian country.

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