Being a model in the digital age comes with added pressures of showing your real personality to the world behind the page or runway. “Your social media page is your magazine of your life, so how you represent yourself matters,” said Ivan Bart, president at IMG Models, whose agency represents the majority of models on this list.
Most of the models on the list have used social media to raise their profiles and convey their advocacies. Here are the most influential ladies of the modeling industry as of today.
Apparently, being picky with runway shows isn’t negatively impacting Kendall Jenner’s bank account. At 23 years old, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star was crowned Forbes’s highest-paid model of 2018, raking in $22.5 million in the 12 months prior to June 2018 (edging her last year’s banking of $22 million). This reigning queen of supermodels has walked in many prestigious fashion shows such as Paris, Milan, and New York fashion shows and appeared on multiple magazines covers such as LOVE, Vogue, and others. She also managed to secure her dream job of walking in the Victoria’s Secret show in 2018. Now with 115 million followers on Instagram, she’s made it to the number one spot of highest-paid models two years in a row.
Coming in second with $13 million in earnings, former Victoria’s Secret Angel Karlie Kloss has cultivated a following for her feminist worldview and advocacy work. “Thanks to social media, Kloss told Forbes, “I could be seen as well as heard.”
Despite having taken a break from modeling in 2015 to complete her education at New York University, her reputation in the fashion industry remained unaffected. In fact, she was also the second highest-paid supermodel in 2018. She has done ad campaigns for global brands such as Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and Dolce and Gabbana, and like Jenner, contracts with Estée Lauder and Adidas contributed to her income, as well as with jewelry giant Swarovski. She now focuses on her project Kode with Klossy, which empowers girls between the ages of 13 and 18 to learn to code. Her generous philanthropic work was honoured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2016.
Chrissy Teigen is just as famous for her reliably hilarious presence on social media and lovable family as for her modeling work. Now one of the biggest stars on Instagram and in the fashion industry, Teigen amassed a fortune of $13.5 million. She made her debut in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2010 and, ever since then, has appeared in many covers including Cosmopolitan, People, and Glamour. Aside from her numerous ad appearances, including for Smirnoff and Vita Coca, Teigen has focused on developing her very own cooking empire. She currently has two published cookbooks—Cravings: Recipes for all the Food You Want to Eat and the sequel Cravings: Hungry for More—and released a cookware line earlier in 2018 through Target. She is presently a co-host in the Lip Sync Battle.
Tied with Teigen at $11.5 million, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley not only has her very own lingerie line with Marks & Spencer but she also stars in popular movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, all the while continuing to dominate the catwalks in her spare time. She broke into London’s fashion industry at 16 by writing to modeling agencies in the city, working her way up and landing campaigns with major brands like Levi’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, eventually getting her real big break when she made her debut as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2006. Since then, Huntington-Whiteley has been on the covers of countless magazines.
Now with over 15 years in the industry, she’s still going strong and building her very own empire with her new beauty website Rose Inc.
Fifteen years after being number one, Gisele Bündchen left the Victoria’s Secret runway. But despite having retired, the former Angel still made $10 million through campaigns with some of her favorite brands. In 2007, she was named among the richest women in the entertainment industry. She has done shoots for international covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Elle, and Cosmopolitan. She’s currently the face of Carolina Herrera’s 212 VIP Rosé fragrance, as well as shoe company Arezzo and Brazilian jeweler Vivara. She recently published an autobiography, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life. In addition to modeling, she has also appeared in a few movies such as The Devil Wears Prada. Presently, she is the Goodwill ambassador for the UN Environment Programme.
Basking in the limelight since 2011, Cara Delevingne has walked all the top runways and graced the covers of famous fashion magazines. Cara garnered even more media attention in 2012 when she won Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, winning again in 2014. Ever since, she has done ad campaigns for globally acclaimed fashion brands such as Jason Wu, Mulberry, Chanel, and Dolce and Gabbana. Soon, Delevingne decided to take a break and began pursuing Hollywood, acting in movies such as Anna Karenina, Paper Towns, Suicide Squad, and Valerian and the City of Thousands. In autumn 2018, she returned to the catwalk in the Balmain show and even posed with lions in the TAG Heuer campaign. She will next be seen onscreen in the Amazon Prime Video series Carnival Row.
Elder to Bella Hadid, Gigi was the recipient of the British Fashion Council’s International Model of the Year award in 2016. Gigi managed to make her mark within a short amount of time. After joining the industry in 2013, by November 2014 she was already on the list of Top 50 Models ranked by Models.com. Made even more famous for her former relationship with singer-songwriter Zayn Malik, Gigi has walked for many designers such as Max Mara, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kors. In 2015, she debuted in Victoria’s Secret fashion show. After having completed collections with Tommy Hilfiger for two years and being a popular choice for all the high-end brands, Hadid had deals with Maybelline and Reebok and was featured in the ever-popular Moschino x HM collection. As far as magazine covers are concerned, she has appeared in Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Grazia, and Paper. She made about $9.5 million last year and has over 49 million followers on Instagram.
Puerto Rican fashion model Joan Smalls is recognized as the first-ever Latina to have endorsed the Estée Lauder cosmetics. Garnering up to $8.5 million last year, Smalls began modeling in 2007 after graduating with a degree in psychology. She first signed with Elite Model Management and, after two years, was signed by the IMG Worldwide, leading to her mainstream success. Eventually, she was able to wear the creations of other famous designers and fashion houses, including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, Lavin, Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dior, Balenciaga, Vendi, and Versace, among others. In 2010, her modeling career with Victoria’s Secret started. She later appeared in Victoria Secret’s fashion shows from 2011 through 2014. Her 2018 shows, as well as her contracts with Estée Lauder and Moschino, have helped her tie in eighth place with one of the most popular models in fashion, Bella Hadid.
Joan Smalls has also appeared in the editorials of several international editions of world renowned magazines, like Harper’s Bazaar, DQ, Vogue, W, Elle, and Glamour.
Isabella Hadid is walking in her sister’s shoes, Gigi Hadid. She’s ranked the 9th-highest-paid model, earning $8.5 million last year, and has become one of the most powerful models almost overnight. Hadid signed to IMG Models in 2014, made her New York Fashion Week debut the same year, walking for Desigual. She walked for Tom Ford in Los Angeles in the spring fashion weeks of 2015. Hadid also modeled for Balmain at the Paris Fashion Week. She made her Chanel debut in December 2015 and walked in the luxury brand’s Métiers d’Art show in Rome. In December 2016, the industry voted her Model of the Year for Model.com’s Model of the Year 2016 Awards. Walking the runways for Alexander Wang, Dior, Ralph Lauren, and Michael Kors, she has appeared on several magazine covers as well. But her biggest achievement so far was joining Victoria’s Secret Angels. She is now considered to be one of the most popular models in the world and of her generation.
Doutzen Kroes, earning $8 million, returned to the ranking after a year’s hiatus with lucrative L’Oréal and Piaget contracts, among others. Kroes was relatively older when she first applied to the Netherlands’ modeling agency Paparazzi Model Management. In 2005, she became the spokes-model for Calvin Klein’s perfume Eternity, and the next year she signed on as the official face of L’Oreal cosmetics. She soon landed work with Victoria’s Secret, officially becoming an Angel in 2008. Her stunning looks constantly graces the covers of Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, and W magazines, among others, and in several campaigns for major brands like Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Escada, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Versace, and Neiman Marcus. Now a staple name in the fashion industry, Kroes is focused on using her voice to help endangered species. In 2018, she partook in Tiffany & Co’s Save the Wild campaign alongside supermodel Naomi Campbell.