When you hear the term ‘fit model’ you may automatically think of fitness models…
…but in the fashion industry, a fit model is someone that designers work with when they are working on the fit of the garment.
While most fit models are not often seen working in print, our cover model Naimah has managed to do both successfully. How? Check out her interview…
How did you begin your modeling career?
It began in high school. I’ve always been tall, thick, solid, and confident. In my high school, the girl’s basketball, softball team, and the musical theater department were our jocks. While the coaches tried to recruit me, sports were not for me! I did join the Vogue Club and the Drama club, though. I planned, produced, and modeled in my high school fashion shows. I was also in the biggest shows at Rutgers University every year, but it was always just a hobby I loved! I didn’t know plus size modeling was a career option until I got hired to ghostwrite a blog about a ReDress Fashion Show many many moons ago. I was in utter shock when I not only saw all the beautiful plus size models slay the runway, but the slayage among the women in the crowd was enough motivation for me to stop my LSAT and law school preparations. It was in that moment that I knew I had to go full force in trying this modeling thing and it ended up being my purpose in life to spread beauty throughout this Earth.
From that moment, I did what I knew how to… fashion shows. I was in any local show I could find in NJ and started networking, researching, talking to models, freeing up my schedule to be available for any and every opportunity and the rest is history.
Do you remember your first big break?
I’d say my first big break was meeting Stylist Susan Moses, models Tricia Campbell and Jeannie Ferguson, as well as all the other top plus models Susan cast for NJ Full Figured Fashion Week. I was hungry, driven, ready, and all ears that weekend. I asked questions and because I had the look and I was humble, they helped me. I didn’t know what a fit model was before that weekend and although it didn’t happen right away, I now fit for some of the biggest brands in the industry from Christian Siriano to showrooms for Melissa McCarthy Seven7; from Adore Me to denim vendors for Walmart. My body and silhouette are used in the design process to make plus consumers feel confident when they try on a garment that fits their body properly. It’s a blessing to be in this industry. I also now have print clients like Avenue, JC Penney, and Rebel Wilson.
Can you explain what a fit model is and what a typical job would be like for you?
A fit model is a muse. A living mannequin that fashion designers and technical designers use to check the fit, drape, and visual aesthetic of a garment before they mass produce it. I believe my body is where a design comes alive! For most brands, I am the perfect sample size that reflects their customers. Yes, we all come is different shapes and sizes but there has to be a form, a starting point, and that is where I come into place. It’s not about just having the right measurements; it’s about the knowledge, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s about having the personality to deal with different groups of people throughout the day picking, pinning, cutting, measuring and commenting on your body.
You have to take yourself out of this equation and visualize how women with all different body shapes will look in it as well. There is a pear-shaped girl somewhere in Montana shopping for a hot date that needs to look great in this dress too and that becomes one of the storylines I keep in the back of my head when in a fitting. You have to get creative while you’re standing in a (sometimes) 3-hour fitting. <laughs>
As a fit model, you have to maintain your measurements. Do you follow a specific diet?
It’s all about balance! Recently, I have been trying to stick to a more alkaline diet, staying away from dairy and meat; so I have to eat more now to maintain my measurements. I drink plenty of water and walk a lot. You have to pay attention to your body and measure yourself often. Now, I can just look at myself and see if I’m off even a 1/2″ in certain places. Toning is very important. When I’m laying down watching TV, I do crunches or leg lifts during the commercials. I now do 20 squats every morning while I’m brushing my teeth because my low hip is 1/2″ under spec. I try to fill dead time with a little toning because I know my body. I cannot go to the gym too often because I lose weight fast and would be out of many jobs. A fit model not only needs to be the requested measurements and height, but you have to be solid, well groomed. Being pretty is a plus, but being personable and knowledgeable about this industry is key!
What tips can you offer to aspiring fit models?
Take some simple pictures and send to all agencies, if you are between 5’6″ – 5’9″ with a solid well-balanced and toned body that’s a size 6/8 or between sizes 12-24. I say, give it a try! Know that there is more consistent work if you are a size 6/8 or 16/18 but there are opportunities for 3X fit models coming in often.
Another great tip is to look at the size charts on brand websites before a casting. That way, you know where you fit in and if you’re under spec or over spec in certain places.
Keep it simple with your dress, hair, and makeup because it’s not about you. It’s about the women who will be wearing these designs and the team that has to visualize these women when fitting on you.
What are your professional goals in the next five years?
Supermodel! I am all for seeing an Ashley Graham/Cardi B type of year waiting for me! I’m claiming that and putting in the work to make it happen!
Get to know Naimah
5 words to describe yourself:
Humble, beautiful, empowered, graceful, solid
Stilettos or flats/sneakers?
Sneakers all day with some bloody shoes on standby <laughs>
I’m torn between Death Becomes Her and Pulp Fiction
5 things you have to have with you when you leave home:
Lip gloss, hairbrush, credit card, cell phone, snack <laughs>
How would you describe your fashion aesthetic?
Athleisure because I literally take clothes off and on for a living, and it’s just easier when running from client to client. But when I go out, I like to look like “new money chic” or the “humble IT girl”. I dress to accentuate my curves and a good bodycon dress never fails me!
Print Agency: DorothyCombsModels.com
Fit Agency: State Management
Photography, Stanley Desbas @desbasphotography
Hair and makeup, @dollhousexpress
Styling, Meaghan O’Connor @mocstyling | @littlelimedress
Produced by Maddy Jones @plusjones
All Cacique lingerie provided by Lane Bryant
Hotel accommodations: Time Hotel Nyack