The perfect fit | August 18, 2006 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 18, 2006

The perfect fit

Young Pleasanton residents play 'human mannequin' to big-time clothing companies

by Jackie Pugh

"It's not the most glamorous job," said fit model Rachel Felix, 12, of Pleasanton. Fit modeling is a different type of modeling, far from the high fashion runways or glitzy lights and cameras so often associated with the term "model." These models are the average person sent to clothing companies to try on sizes. In essence, they have the precise measurements for a particular size in which designers base the fit of their clothing line.

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.


Posted by Cindy, a resident of Dublin
on Jan 24, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Have you heard of Vicki Busch Model Talent agecny in Danville. I heard she can book allot of jobs.

Posted by Maya, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Jan 25, 2008 at 10:53 am

I don't think modeling for children should be highlighted in the media. There is enough, more than enough, attention on girl's physical appearance. Also, there is an unhealthy fascination in our culture with getting attention in the media. As if having your picture in a magazine or a part in a movie makes all your dreams come true. Ask Heath Ledger if that's true.
I think it's irresponsible for adults to perpetuate this myth by featuring children who are models, actors, etc. in newspapers, etc. and interviewing them. Kids read this, and think these children are 'special,' and if only they could get this kind of attention, they would be special too. It's a load of bull adults who control the media serve up on a heaping platter. Heath, how happy did being good-looking and having your picture in magazines make you?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Hi Cindy....have you heard of Megan's Law? Check out this cool stuff:
Registered Sex Offenders in Danvill = 8; Pleasanton = 24; Livermore = 40.

Has it ever occurred to you that sex offenders or predatory men and women who harm kids.

Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 25, 2008 at 6:47 pm

I don't mean to sound rude, but I don't Heath Ledgers death has anything to do with this. Maybe there are similarities in people being in the spotlight, but it's kind of inappropriate to compare Ledger's death to children modeling. As with any career/event, there are always negative sides.

Posted by Chris, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 26, 2008 at 1:56 pm

My brother is leaving with his wife and 2 children in 2weeks to spend the rest of their days on this planet ministering to children with aids in Africa....Now that is newsworthy!!!

Posted by Alyssa, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Jan 26, 2008 at 9:18 pm

That IS newsworthy. Get that in the Pleasanton Weekly. That would be worth reading. Who cares about child models?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 27, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Pedophiles/sexual predators care about child models.

You don't need to go to Africa to care for children with Aids. Why not do something to help out children with AIUD in the USA?

Chris...are you gonna go and help out....hope so!

Posted by Chris, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Cholo: You know what, I would love to,and he said to me "sis, give up the race here and come with us" I am so stuck in making ends meet, surviving, the truth I know in my heart, that would be so rewarding.....if I could break away!!!!

Posted by chris, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Oh,and as far as the child model topic, what we don't need anymore of is young girls being pushed into fitting in and looking at careers in modeling...Has anyone ever thought "who is going to run our country in 20 years" scary, I mean youth are all about modeling, music, being an American Idol!!!!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 27, 2008 at 9:29 pm

AMEN!!! We finally agree on something. Let the kids thrive, keep the goons away from them. They are the future, let kids have the life of a kid; fire the parents who exploit them!

Posted by Parent/Educator/Model Coach, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Are these Posting by Educated adults/parents? These social topics are important... AIDS, POVERTY, MENTL/PHYSICAL ABUSE etc... however this is an article on a community event... on an extra curricular activity. It wasn't breaking news on CNN... besides, I'm sure most of these people who wrote this tuned into some car chase recently, or spend most of their days working so hard stuffing their children with crap and thinking TV is the new-age babysitters. Because I can't imagine that educated adults would think this story was nothing more then a quick "shout out" to fun, extra curricular activity, self esteem and social awareness. Besides if you trust the MEDIA to educate your children... then you'll see the result will be just as pathetic and ignorant as these responses. Luckily, I teach Self Image and Modeling and I'm getting my kids a real lesson in life, education and self esteem. Good Parents that know the value in something like this... thank me. It's not all about mainstream industry... it's about personal growth.
Cheers and good parenting to all!