When thinking of locations that pertain to fashion, beauty, pizazz and glamour, a few of the world’s cities come to mind. One of them being New York City. Many hopefuls looking to make a name for themselves in the modeling business and showcase the latest trends in lux and high-end fashion, head to the big apple. In the land filled with the best of the best, it’s no surprise that New York City is home to some of the most iconic agencies in world. Below, we review ten of the best modeling agencies in NYC — taking into account how they started, what the agency is currently doing to stay relevant in the industry, as well as the best ways to contact and apply for each.
History – Believe it or not, IMG did not start as a company or agency representing models and curtailing to the fashion and beauty industry. IMG actually began as an outlet for athletic stars to receive representation to agents that would help them develop and review corporate sponsorships and product branding. Started in the year 1960 in Columbus, OH, (Yes, not originally headquartered in New York City), IMG was founded by lawyer Mark McCormack. Some of McCormack’s initial talent included athletic stars like Arnold Palmer. It wasn’t until September 12, 2002 that IMG Worldwide developed it’s division media company IMG models
Where They Are Now – Even though IMG’s modeling sector has only been around for the last sixteen years, it hasn’t stopped this modeling agency from dominating the industry and being ranked as one of (if not the most) sought after model agencies in NYC. IMG signs some of the most desired talent in the industry. Their work is in seen in numerous beauty brand campaigns, publications like Vogue, as well as seen on every major runway not only during New York City Fashion Week but Paris, Milan, and London as well.
Past and Current Talent – IMG consist of some the top models in the industry including: The entire Hadid family, sister’s Bella and Gigi, and their younger brother Anwar. Additionally, IMG currently represents, Hailey Baldwin (Stephen Baldwin’s daughter and Justin Bieber’s fiancé), Maybelline girl Emily Didonato, Victoria Secret Angel Lily Aldridge, and icons like Ashley Graham.
How To Be Scouted – Located on IMG’s website are many different outlets to both join IMG and learn about the overall environment of the modeling, fashion and beauty industry. Below we’ve broken down three different ways to get involved with IMG:
- Applying For IMG: On their site, IMG encourages those wanting to pursue a modeling career to go for it! All you need to be is over the age of fourteen and taller than five foot seven. Not only do you not need prior experience but they encourage (and ask) that all applicant submit non-professional headshots. They’re idea is to capture new and exciting talent. Plus! Their questionnaire ask personable and fun questions, making it more than looks but accounting for personality as well.
- IMG Model Prep: Interested applicants go through IMG’s Model Prep mentorship program where they gain career guidance and insight as well as build up their community in the industry.
- IMG Fashion Camp: Once a year IMG host a model prep seminar featuring some of their top talent and industry leaders (usually over the summer). This program is exceptional for those who have interest in model agencies in NYC, as it teaches all the rules of the trade and gives you a leg up in the industry.
History – Formerly known as The Ford Modeling Agency, this particular agency is notably one of the most prestigious model agencies in NYC. Started by Eileen Ford (wife of Manhattan business man, Jerry Ford) in 1946 and initially ran out of their home. It was even said that they would let teenage models stay in their home in New York City to complete jobs in and around the city. Leading the industry, Ford was the first agency that began paying their talent ahead of time before their assigned jobs. Ford was monopolizing model talent for a while, until other agencies came on the scene. The model wars never stopped Ford from gaining the best of the best, in 1980, Ford held the Ford Supermodel World Contest that brought in over 60,000 models ever year.
Where They Are Now – Along with being an industry leader in model talent and representation in various fields (like fashion, beauty, branding and publication content), Ford Models has now extended a branch of its agency to associating professions to the fashion and beauty industry. Ford now will represent hair stylist, fashion stylist, makeup artist, photographers, art directors, prop designers and stylers, set stylist and even manicurist.
Past and Current Talent – Ford Models represent talent like Channing Tatum and long time supermodel Christy Turlington. Ford is also known for the success of these past iconic models: Rachel Hunter (in fact being with Ford is a reason she received a working contract with Covergirl), Brooke Shields, Ali MacGraw, Beverly Johnson, Suzy Parker, Christie Brinkley, and Candice Bergen.
How To Be Scouted – Ford Models hold open casting calls in the two cities of Chicago and Los Angeles (even though they’re known as one of the top modeling agencies in NYC). In Chicago, the calls occur from 2pm to 4pm on Monday through Friday. In Los Angeles, the calls occur on Tuesdays from 3pm to 4pm. If you’re unable to to reach these two cities, Ford has an online form. Ford’s recommends you showcasing your natural beauty, and not hiding behind tons of makeup and fancy outfits.
Elite Model Management
History – While Elite Model Management started in Paris, France, in 1972 by John Casablancas, it opened up shop in New York City later in 1977 and has been a major player in seeking talent and considered one of the top modeling agencies in NYC. At the time, many agencies in Europe (in particular Paris and Milan) were holding onto model’s funds to ensure they would continue working. The ideology of holding money was obviously frowned upon in the seventies. Where America and British agencies gave their talent the proper respect and payment they deserved, Elite open the US base office to follow suit and gain competitive models to their roster. As mentioned earlier, once Elite opened their doors in the United States they engaged in the model wars of the eighties. Once Wilhelmina passed away, her clients had the decision to bounce to either Ford or Elite looking for new representation. This made Elite an incredibly desired place to sign.
Where They Are Now – Elite Model Management, just like in the eighties, is still a top contender for potential new talent and ranked amongst modeling agencies in NYC as one of the most desirable places to sign. What’s incredibly groundbreaking about Elite Modeling Agency, is that they’re not afraid to shake up the perceived beauty. Elite’s scout look for natural talent from every corner, in fact Elite was the first to sign a transgender african american into their roster, making strides in the modern modeling career field.
Past and Current Talent – Elite Modeling Agency scouted Linda Evangelista at a Miss Niagara Teen Contest. While she didn’t win the overall contest, she did win over the eyes of Elite scouts who wanted her to come join Elite. Best part? Linda had graduated high school early and was looking to make some extra cash before college so she signed with Elite, not knowing the potential she had. She is now known one of the most iconic supermodels in the world. Like Ford, Elite also hold Model Looks competition. It was here that fourteen year old Alessandro Ambrosio was discovered and became a finalist. Needless to say, that Elite pushed Alessandro into an international phenomena and one of the longest running Victoria Secret Angels (She retired her wings and walked her last show in December 2017’s VS Fashion Show).
How To Be Scouted – Elite Model Management is all about being inclusive, promoting diversity and change. Their true test to see if a model is worthy of being signed to their roster is all about being completely authentic while being bold and brave about the person you are. Elite no longer does open calls in New York City, but they do take online applications. Through this form, they suggest capturing several images of yourself. Pictures should contain tight fitted clothing and a bare face when submitting. They also want a true ‘personality image’ submitted with your application — so allow your true self to show!
DNA Model Management
History – One of the relatively newer modeling agencies in NYC, DNA Model Management doesn’t let their younger positioning stop them from racking up some of the best talent in New York City (and the world)! The agency was started in 1995, originally headquartered in New York City and opened under Jerome and David Bonnouvrier (David later would become the chief executive officer). One of the major differences between DNA and other modeling agencies in NYC, is that their talent and agency coverage goes beyond modeling as DNA also signs actors and celebrities.
Where They Are Now – DNA Model Management is making massive strides in the industry as they want to give their talent the ability to communicate and connect with the world versus staying in their hub and modeling bubble. They’re even expanding their exposure to cover world advocacy and promoting charity work among their talent and are known to the be leading innovators in this capacity amongst modeling agencies in NYC.
Past and Current Talent – As DNA represents actors and actresses in addition to model talent, their have a reputable list of celebrities. Iconic names like The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder, and Blurred Lines’ music video star Emily Ratajkowski, as well as Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Gabriel Mann, and even figure skater Evan Lysacek. Recently, DNA has gained a lot of attention in the spotlight for snagging top supermodel Naomi Campbell. Ending her time with New York Model Management, Naomi decided to join DNA as she believes the agency will allow her to give back to the community as well as sharing her expertise of over thirty years of modeling with others.
How To Be Scouted – DNA is not hosting open calls in New York City (or any other city, unfortunately). The site recommends sending headshots and submissions to the following two emails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Model Management
History – Otherwise known as NEXT Models, was started as a talent and modeling agency in 1989 by both Faith Kates and Joel Wilkenfeld. When models join NEXT, there tends to be a push of popularity that follows as this particular agency has become one of the industry’s leading fashion management. Unlike other modeling agencies in NYC, NEXT branched into representing influencers in addition to models, actors, and musicians.
Where They Are Now – With the addition of the first digital influencers management division in 2009 NEXT Models is covering a large variety of talent that is moving in the direction of the future, as the rise of branding and the accessible content is seemingly the next frontier. Additionally, in 2013 NEXT opened another branch of their agency that speaks to fashion artist-focussed talent. Their last big move was acquiring Metier marketing and branding agency in 2015.
Past and Current Talent – Some of the most well known musicians, rappers, and DJs are represented by NEXT, including: A$AP Rocky, Diplo & MIA, Ellie Goulding, Travis Scott (from Blink 182) and Lana Del Ray. Along with their long list of reputable musicians, they represent beauty and fashion models including: Ana Beatriz Barros, Malgosia Bela, Meghan Collison, Tatiana Cotliar, and Abbey Lee Kershaw.
How To Be Scouted – There are two ways to connect with NEXT Models in New York City. First is to submit the online form, found here — make sure to complete each section of the form as well as sending five images covering a range of angles and body focus’. Additionally, you can reach out to the local agency (New York City’s Number is: 212-925-5100) and schedule an open call.
New York Model Management
History – This boutique New York City Soho-based agency started by Marion Smith is relatively new to the seen, but has the heart of an agency that’s picked up a thing or two over years of experience. Reason for this? Founder Marion Smith worked years with Eileen Ford from Ford’s Modeling Agency and learned the rules as well as the tricks of the trade.
Where They Are Now – Talent from New York Model Management has been featured on the cover of top United States and global magazines and publications including: Vogue, GQ, TMagazine China, Paper Magazine, and Marie Claire. Their talent is also walking in the major shows in New York, Paris, London, and Milan fashion week like: Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.
Past and Current Talent – New York Model Management has some of the most talented and emerging fashion and beauty icons in all of the modeling agencies in NYC. Some of those represented include: Duckie Thot, Jazzelle, Jay Wright, and Sui He.
How To Be Scouted – There are several different ways to connect and apply to be represented by New York Model Management. The first is an open call. For women, New York City’s open call happens every Thursday from 10:30am to 11:30am (unfortunately there is no open call for males). For both men and women, you can submit an online or mail submission, the questionnaire with upload forms for associating photos can be found, here.
History – One of the top modeling agencies in NYC, Women Management was started by Paul Rowland in 1988. When talent signed under Women Management, they also had access to Supreme Management, the sister agency as both were under the Women International Agency Chain.
Where They Are Now – From the time Women Management opened their doors in ‘88, they continue to sign naturally beautiful and diverse talent from all over the world. Their motto has stayed true to embracing non-traditional beauty.
Past and Current Talent – Many growing professionals in the modeling industry trust and sign with Women Management. Their growing list of clientele make them a super established and one of the most iconic modeling agencies in NYC. Women Management has started the careers of models like: Carmen Kass, Isabeli Fontana, Julia Stegner, Iselin Steiro, and Kate Moss. Currently, Women Management discovered upcoming talent, Victoria Secret show walker and Maybelline Girl, Herieth Paul from Tanzania. Most notably, both Jourdan Dunn and Behati Prinsloo are on Women Management’s roster.
How To Be Scouted – The best way to contact Women Management Agency, is to reach out through their online submission form. The application guidelines on the website are straightforward and include the upload link for four accompanying photos. For those interested, the form can be found here.
The Lions Model Management LLC
History – Another boutique New York City based agency makes our list of the ten iconic modeling agencies in NYC. The Lions agency was created by seven models from Elite, Womens, and IMG: Frankie Rayder, Angela Lindvall, Anne Vyalitsyna, Jessica Hart, Karen Elson, Agyness Deyn and Cameron Russell.
Where They Are Now – Started by models that lived through the life and industry of the growing fashion and beauty business, The Lions understand the changing landscape and challenges of being a model and try to navigate and empower their roster. They claim that Lions does not represent models, but individuals. Their agency is devoted to “building powerful personal brands”.
Past and Current Talent – By obvious conclusion, the seven talented models who started Lions are represented by the company (Rayder, Lindvall, Vyalitsyna, Hart, Elson, Deyn, Russell). In addition, faces like: Cayley King, Eliza Cummings, Emma Heming Willis, along with lux and supermodels: Irina Shayk, Stella Maxwell, Sara Sampaio, and Kate Upton.
How To Be Scouted – The Lions is accepting online submissions for those looking to be noticed and potentially signed by their agency. The online form can be found here. The questionnaire is straightforward and is comprised of only five questions (name, age, height, city, and email) along with providing three images.
History – Even though the Marilyn Agency was started in Paris in 1985, it receives a spot on our iconic modeling agencies in NYC, as they opened their New York City headquarters in 1997. They opened with the core value of staying on top of fashion trends, adhering to the most ethical standards in the industry, and above all else tending to their clients needs.
Where They Are Now – The Marilyn Agency is continuing to be a powerhouse in the New York City modeling scene, and for good reason. Marilyn promises their talent a completely tailored client relationship where every individual is cared for and carefully developed in terms of their desired end-game for their career, passions they’d like to pursue, and create well rounded careers.
Past and Current Talent – Marilyn has represented some of the most recognized and talented supermodel’s in the industry. Some include: Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Coco Rocha, Liu Wen, Adriana Lima, Julia Stegner, Maggie Rizer, Asia Chow, Missy Rayder and Claudia Schiffer (along with many others).
How To Be Scouted – The Marilyn Agency has an online submission form for inspiring models to fill out and submit. The form (which can be found here) is several pages long and has a couple of associating rules including:
- Must be 18 years or older (or including parental consent if under 18, *14 is the youngest age to apply with parental consent)
- Looking for women talent between the height of 5’8” to 6’0”
History – Previously known as Wilhelmina Models, Wilhelmina International is a full service talent and modeling agency which is headquartered in New York City, earning it a spot on our list of top modeling agencies in NYC. It was founded in 1967 by Wilhelmina Cooper and clients range from traditional models, to actors/actress, musicians, artists, and even athletes. From its founding, Wilhelmina Models (and International) have undergone multiple changes to get it to the agency it is today. After Wilhelmina’s passing, the company was sold off to the agency’s business partners then bought in 1989 for four million dollars to Horst-Dieter Esch who had the ideal of merging Wilhelmina, Elite and Ford into one large agency. When that fell through, Esch sold his stake to New Century. It was then that Wilhelmina Models changed its name to Wilhelmina International. In 2009, the agency became a publicly traded company under the ticker symbol WHLM. In 2012 Wilhelmina launched an artist division that caters to both film and musical talent. Most recently, in 2016, Aperture was launched by Wilhelmina that expands not only to film and music, but commercials as well.
Where They Are Now – On top of their headquarters in New York City and regional offices in Miami and Los Angeles, Wilhelmina has licensees throughout the world. Wilhelmina Models contains a network with over hundreds of local model management firms. This assist them in finding and developing the next generation of talent. Wilhelmina believes that model scouting and development initiatives should extend to national model searches. Some ways they go about scouting include concerts and events outlined with strategic media partners. This assist all parties in utilizing the latest in information and social technologies to help their company and associating brands develop. Wilhelmina Models remains a fast growing and leader in the industry for fashion and beauty, as has been this way for over fifty years.
Past and Current Talent – Some of the most notable talent signed under Wilhelmina includes: Leona Lewis, Nicki Minaj, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Shawn Mendes, and One Direction star Niall Horan.
How To Be Scouted – Wilhelmina has what is known as Willy scouts that seek their potential new talent. The location in NYC does not have open calls, but if looking to apply in person they agency has open calls in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London. Interest applicants can also apply online using this form.
*It’s important to know, many companies or individuals can pose themselves as scouts for any of the listed modeling agencies in NYC. Before sending any information or money, please check with the listed agencies representatives on the main website. These agencies will likely not ask for money, or inappropriate or lingerie images – so these would be automatic red flags.