Felix works mostly with Gap and Old Navy, but confessed most of the modeling she had done was in print, until her agency, Marla Dell Talent, suggested she try fit modeling. Marla Dell Talent, based in San Francisco, provides a networking system to get adults, children and families work in commercials, print, fit modeling, motion pictures and more. Dustin Avila, 12, of Pleasanton, also got involved with Marla Dell Talent after first taking classes at John Robert Powers in San Ramon when he was 8 years old.
In the John Robert Powers school system, kids, teens and adults can take classes to enhance their communication skills. The school's goal, to further opportunities for their clients in the entertainment industry, allows attendees to interview with numerous agents weekly, through which Dustin got into fit modeling a year later.
For fit modeling, models tend to be younger with the most recent demand for boys' sizes 10 and 12, and girls' sizes five, eight and 14. By working with clothing designers, merchandisers and buyers of the industry, fit modeling proves to be a fairly lucrative business considering the part-time commitment and, for Felix, a great way to start saving for her college fund. Felix said she gets paid $75 per hour and, with numerous meetings a week, ranging anywhere from a half an hour to two hours, it's not a bad part-time job for a middle school student.
"The thing that led me to do fit modeling was my age and the fact that I could just be an average person and do it," Felix said. But can modeling ever really be for the average person? Consider all the time spent in the city away from friends, family and school. Consider the fact that if young children are the hot market for fit modeling, what happens when they grow?
To these questions, Felix shared her optimism. "If your body changes, they could always use you for another size," she said casually. As far as missing out on events here at home, she is most disappointed when she has to miss a dance class. But then again, Felix made a point to say she doesn't always have to go to her fittings if she feels like she is absent from too many of her activities in Pleasanton. Felix is modest about her work, telling friends she's simply "going to the city" and managing to get all her homework done with no excuses for missing a half day of class.
School, of course, being a top priority for both Rachel and Dustin, is one area that agencies like John Robert Powers and Marla Dell Talent believe to be extremely important and advantageous to a model's career. Sandra Avila, Dustin's mother, stressed that the business was certainly not for the faint-of-heart. "For fit modeling, these models have to be good students. I don't think they can be below a C-average," Avila said. "You have to want to do this."
While being in the business could eventually lead to employment in high-profile fashion, fit modeling is on the production side of the industry and a distant dream for "America's Next Top Model."
"You almost have to be involved in print to go places with modeling," Felix said. Although she has done some print modeling for companies like LL Bean, she likes fit modeling because she gets to see the clothes before they hit the store. She has also made a lot of good friends through the industry by having to travel to San Francisco every time she has a fitting. Both Felix and Dustin, do most of their work in the city, rarely having to go out-of-state.
After being in the business for the past three years, Felix knows the "ins and outs" and described the process of what goes on during a "fitting." Clothing companies have to have the clothes fitted early, ready for the upcoming season. If a fit model is for girls' sizes 5-14, for example, the designers make specs that the model wears in order to be altered from there.
Avila also gave some insight into the process of fit modeling.
"They have you put a resume of your son or daughter on Skybolt Web site for agencies to look at," Avila said. "It has all their characteristics on it, like a picture and their measurements." While Dustin is still in the popular size range, his fit modeling career edges on the company's opinion of his looks and how the clothes fit. Only then, will he get the booking.
Currently, Dustin has done fit modeling with Levi's, where they had him try on pants. "They look at the waist and the length," Avila said. It's almost like being at the tailors--pinning, marking and measuring for the ideal dimensions.
Fit models, lending their bodies to the "science of fashion," have silently influenced consumer fashion for years, giving the term "model" one more definition, and a surprisingly normal one at that. Yet, while the stereotypical super models have stayed on the runways, we can thank the "girl-next-door" or "that-boy-from-gym-class" the next time we find a decently fitting pair of jeans.