Alternative Modelling: Models Who Aren’t Mainstream

5 Comments Uncategorized By Melissa


The modelling industry can be broken down into sub-categories. These include plus-size, fitness and alternative modelling.

But what exactly is alternative modelling? Who is most suited to it?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about alternative modelling. 

What is an Alternative Model?

Alternative modelling refers to the niche of modelling that does not conform to mainstream ideals of beauty. Alternative brands have a different style to the norm, and their chosen models also reflect this aversion to conventional fashion standards. 

Who Requires Alternative Models?

Brands who cater to a more unique audience will need alternative models. For example, goth style is considered alternative. 

Tattoo and piercing brands will also need alternative models, as will some more edgy hair salons or make-up artists. 

What Does An Alternative Model Look Like?

An alternative model is any model who does not meet the conventional look of a model. Many alternative models have a very unique style, or something that makes them stand out. 

That might include having the following:

– Tattoos (sleeves, large tattoos that can’t be hidden)

– Piercings (facial and not easy to hide like ear piercings)

– Exotic hair styles or colours (unnatural colours like blue or green)

– Body modifications 

Alternative Model Styles

– Steampunk

– Goth

– Burlesque

– Emo

– Fetish model

– Punk

Requirements of an Alternative Model

Alternative models do not need to meet the strict criteria expected of high-fashion models (i.e. height, body proportions etc.) however it does help to be taller (over 5’8″ for women and over 5’11” for men).

Brands and modelling agencies will look for models who are attractive in their own way – nice, white teeth, good bone structure and an attractive physique. They must be photogenic and move well in front of the camera. 

Alternative models are required all over the world, from Europe to the USA. 

Famous Alternative Models

Dita Von Teese

– Ruby Rose

– Adora Batbrat

– Tess Holliday

– Melanie Gaydos

– Grace Neutral

– Iska Ithil

– Malice McMunn

– Dani Divine

How to Be an Alternative Model

Becoming an alternative model is very similar to becoming any other type of model. 

An aspiring alternative model should have a very strong modelling portfolio, filled with photos that reflects their chosen modelling niche. This is an opportunity to show your talent and range as a model, so show off your alternative style. 

If you don’t have a modelling portfolio, it’s worth hiring a professional photographer for a photoshoot. This will give you valuable on-set practice and you can purchase the resulting photos to put into your portfolio. 

Many modelling agencies work predominantly with alternative models, you just have to find them. There is no point applying to an agency who does not work with alternative models; do your research and be smart. You can apply to as many agencies as you wish.

Modelling is a difficult job and you will face plenty of rejection. That means you will likely not hear back from many of the agencies you apply to. This is not a reason to become despondent; it’s the nature of the job. Keep trying!

Once you do hear back from an agency, they will invite you to an in-person interview at their headquarters (usually located in a major city like London or Manchester, so make sure you can travel). It will be a fair audition that will take your personality and edgy attitude as well as your looks into account. Make sure any stand-out traits are shown off. 

Using Social Media

Social media is a great place to build a fanbase. Instagram in particular is a good tool for all aspiring models. As well as building a following, you can attract the attention of brands that you may end up working with in the future. Some models end up making great money via brand advertising and collaborations.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are also good places to help build a following. 

Alternative Brands

– Dr Martens

– Attitude Clothing

– Disturbia Clothing

– Grindstore

– Dollskill

– Jawbreaker Clothing

– Suicide Girls

Further Tips and Advice

– Work hard to have a high-quality portfolio

– Gain as much experience as possible

– Practice in front of the mirror

– Network as much as you can to build up your industry contacts

– Look after yourself year-around (have a good exercise routine and healthy diet)

– Know your audience. Research the types of brands that work with alternative models.

Are you interested in being an alternative model? Register with us today and we can help you get started!


  1. Kelsey Mercer on October 22, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    I’ve been wanting to become an alternative model for 6 years now but never knew how to go about it, I don’t have a professional portfolio together but I have my own if that would be okay.

  2. Eloise on May 11, 2023 at 9:48 am

    I am pierced and tattooed so very interested in showing that off

  3. Sarah Tanyel on October 8, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Hello, I am into the Gothic look and steampunk also abit of grunge style.
    I have tattoos and dark purple hair with green eyes.

    I would be very interested in becoming an alternative model and live in the London area.

    Thank you.

  4. Frankee on October 17, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    Hi, I’m new to the modelling industry but I had my first photoshoot assessment and it went extremely well, I now have a portfolio built and I am currently creating my own website. I am extremely interested in alternative/gothic/lingerie modelling.

  5. Elizabeth on November 20, 2023 at 11:20 pm

    I’ve wanted to become an ‘alternative’ model for a while now. I have facial piercings and a large tattoo from my ribs down to the top of my knee cap. I’m also just above 5ft 8 and definitely more on the edgier side style wise, so would be suitable for this type of modelling. I would love to bring my confidence infront of a camera to show to the world, however I don’t have a portfolio and I’m not sure how to go about with building one that’s strong.

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