Good South African models earn anything from R25,000 to R60,000 a month after tax, says Jason Smith, model agent at Kult Models.
"Rates between the girls and guys, however, differ a lot – the country's top males can command rates starting at R50,000 a day and the girls earn at times double that per day," Smith told Business Insider South Africa.
But Smith says successful models spent years building their brand and booking top clients.
“If it was easy to look as good as a model or celebrities everyone would look good… you need to keep your body and face in the best condition 24/7."
“Sports stars work years to be at the top of their game – the same applies to 98% of the models in the world.”
Smith says good proportions and a well-toned body is vital for aspiring male and female models.
"Models are a unique breed: there has to be a sense of “aspiration” for the public to be like them and the clients to want that for their brands."
"There is also no magic formula for it – as long as it looks good in front of a camera without you appearing too muscular for guys or thin/overweight for girls that is all that is needed."
Wendy Brown, model agent at Pulse Models, says agencies overseas are very adamant that females be a minimum height of 1.75m and males a minimum of 1.83m.
The standard measurements for men are height between 186 and 188 cm, chest between 98 and 100 cm, waist between 81 and 84 cm, and shoe size 10.
For women, the standard measurements are height between 176 and 180 cm, bust size 34B or 34C, waist between 61 and 64 cm, and shoe size 5 or 6.
"A new trend in fashion, however, is that everyday girl next door look outperforms the catwalk queen beauties of the Cindy Crawford Era," Brown says.
"I think most fashion based companies need to relate more to the average person than the 10% gods and goddesses we call supermodels."
Brown says their bookers are always "on patrol" for new models.
"Models can be scouted at events [such as] school event and sports events, or it could happen in a shopping mall and street."
"We even have independent scouts out in hard-to-reach areas to find special local girls."
Once a model is scouted, they get developed through a photo shoot to create a profile card which can be presented to future clients.
"Agencies are responsible for taking a new face and developing them into a model with solid modelling careers," Brown says.
Nasco Mihaylov, director at Cape Town-based Grace Models, encourages aspiring models to audition at an agency, even if they might not fit the mould of a typical model.
“What some people consider to be a flaw, the clients would consider a great feature,” Mihaylov says.
“Gap in the teeth, freckles, ginger hair – these are all awesome features to have and many people are ashamed of them and try to cover them with makeup or hair dye.”