Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Beyond the catwalk: Meet the new generation of 'modelpreneurs'

By Sheena McKenzie, for CNN
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Brazilian Gisele Bündchen topped this year's Forbes list of richest models, earning $42 million thanks to endorsement deals with H&M (pictured), Chanel, Pantene, and footwear company Grendene. Brazilian Gisele Bündchen topped this year's Forbes list of richest models, earning $42 million thanks to endorsement deals with H&M (pictured), Chanel, Pantene, and footwear company Grendene.
HIDE CAPTION
Meet the world's richest 'modelpreneurs'
Miranda Kerr
Elle Macpherson
Tyra Banks
Heidi Klum
Helena Christensen
Kathy Ireland
Iman
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gisele Bundchen tops Forbes list of richest models, earning $42m in a year
  • Marks rise of the "modelpreneur" -- models who have launched lucrative businesses
  • Models estimated to earn just 10% from catwalk, majority made in endorsements
  • Helps guarantee career longevity once looks fade

Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time. Each month, we meet two women at the top of their field, exploring their careers, lives and ideas.

(CNN) -- Remember when supermodel Linda Evangelista said she didn't "wake up for less than $10,000 a day?"

The provocative comment -- made in Vogue magazine in 1990 -- haunted the Canadian beauty for the rest of her career. But fast forward two decades and $10,000 now seems like a paltry figure in comparison with today's "modelpreneurs."

How about rousing yourself from bed to the tune of $42 million a year? That's how much Brazilian Gisele Bündchen earned in 12 months, according to Forbes magazine's latest list of the world's richest models.

If it seems impossible to earn that much money from sashaying down a catwalk alone, then that's because it is. Bündchen doesn't make her millions simply from modeling -- she makes them through lucrative endorsement deals with everyone from H&M to Chanel, and her own line of sandals with footwear company Grendene.

Melinda Gates on lifting women's voices
Space archaeologist reveals lost worlds
Lack of fear helps life insurance CEO

A new generation

Enter a new era of supermodel-turned-supermogul, where girls as young as 16 start carving brand names for themselves from the moment they hit the fashion runway.

"If you look at the top models, they probably make 10% to 15% of their money from the catwalk -- the rest is really made from endorsements and brands," said Ryan Schinman, chief executive of Platinum Rye Entertainment, which represents corporations that partner with celebrities.

"It used to be retired models who created their own brands. Now a lot of newer girls are thinking about it from the very start -- you don't need to be in the business for 10 years to build a name for yourself anymore."

Schinman pointed to the rise of social media in helping young models build a global following. By using Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter they can reach out to the public with more ease than ever before -- and push their brand.

Read: Guess Hollywood's highest-paid actress?

The Gisele factor

But being attractive, young, and tech-savvy isn't always enough to catapult you to the top of the model rich list. There's also another factor: personality.

"The ability to sell has nothing to do with your profession -- it's down to your popularity and likeability," said Schinman.

He pointed to the phenomenal success of Gisele Bündchen, who this year tops the rich list for the seventh time.

"She's a global phenomenon who's been able to transcend the industry," he said. "Now she's a mom, that's also opened her up to more categories of commercialism."

"And the fact that she's married to American footballer Tom Brady means she also gets added coverage."

Read: The business of Beyonce

Victoria's Secret celebrities

The top models probably make 10% to 15% of their money from the catwalk -- the rest is from endorsements and brands
Ryan Schinman, chief executive of Platinum Rye Entertainment

Trailing behind Bündchen on the Forbes list is Australian Miranda Kerr on $7.2 million a year -- also a former Victoria's Secret model -- who today has deals with Qantas, Mango, and her own beauty products line, Kora Organics.

In fact, eight of the top ten models in the Forbes list have worked for the Victoria's Secret lingerie label, a major name in the fashion industry which provides international exposure for its "Angels," as they're called.

And as the price of hiring well-known actresses continues to rise, retailers are increasingly turning to models to sell their products.

"Celebrities are becoming a lot less affordable," said Schinman. "Models are now in a very strong period commercially, more so than ever before."

"The more you are believable to the brand you're representing the better -- a lot of it has to do with trust. A model is seen as someone who understands good design, fashion and accessories."

Read: 12 women who changed business

It pays to be pretty (savvy)

In an industry where you can be seen as "over the hill" in your 30s, it pays to build a career off the catwalk.

"It helps your longevity. It means when your looks start to fade you'll still have a lucrative career," said Schinman.

For Bündchen and her fellow multimillion dollar "modelpreneurs," it seems they really are more than just pretty faces.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
bbf
When Bobbi Brown set out to create her eponymous makeup line in 1991, she had one thing to her mind -- to make a lipstick that looked like lips.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0914 GMT (1714 HKT)
The Cornell educated executive, who is hotly tipped as the successor to magnate Steve Wynn, is about to unveil the latest Wynn Palace in Macau.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
From Coco Chanel to DVF, CNN takes a look at celebrated fashion designers and the iconic pieces which launched their careers.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 1115 GMT (1915 HKT)
:KNOXVILLE, TN - MAY 28: Dolly Parton performs during a concert to benefit Dolly's Imagination Library & Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation at The University of Tennessee's Thompson-boling Arena on May 28, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 05: Debbie Harry of Blondie performs onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for CBGB)
When titans of music Dolly Parton and Debbie Harry perform at one of the biggest music festivals on the planet, Glastonbury, who will be crowned queen?
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
2 Caption:Avignon, FRANCE: Serb artist Marina Abramovic performs in 'The Biography Remix' directed by Michael Laub from Netherlands, 10 July 2005 at the Benoix-XII house during the Theater Festival held in Avignon southern France. AFP PHOTO ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
CNN meets Serbian-born New-York based performance artist Marina Abramovic, as she embarks on the most controversial show of her career.
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1325 GMT (2125 HKT)
This Mother's Day, we're celebrating the many women in the world who have provided care, love and guidance for children who are not biologically their own.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 1506 GMT (2306 HKT)
She turned her bohemian beach style and love of ballet shoes into a billion-dollar brand. This week on Leading Women, fashion designer Tory Burch reveals her ultimate style guru.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
Meet Mo Abudu, the talk show host portraying a very different Africa. As a glamorous presenter, she also heads up Ebony Life TV network, based in Nigeria.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0936 GMT (1736 HKT)
A lone blonde woman, wrapped in nothing but a sarong, leads four camels and a little dog across one of the most inhabitable environments on Earth.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Their job is capturing the most horrifying images on Earth -- keeping their eyes open, where others must look away. Meet Kate Brooks and Gerda Taro, the war photographers of today and yesterday.
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Gloria Steinem speaks onstage during Equality Now presents 'Make Equality Reality' at Montage Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
As Gloria Steinem turns 80, Kathleen McCartney highlights the remarkable life of the feminist so far.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
Former U.S. State Deparment Anne-Marie Slaughter says Brad Pitt is 'posterchild for engaged fatherhood'.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 0750 GMT (1550 HKT)
Ahead of the release of her 14th studio album, take a look at the remarkable career of Mariah Carey, who went from curly-haired girl next door to elusive chanteuse.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN hosted a Tweetchat on gender equality with special guests including Nobel Peace prize laureate Tawakkol Karman. Here's what you missed.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1059 GMT (1859 HKT)
From shaving her head for climate change to opting for a sustainable business model, Vivienne Westwood is simply unstoppable.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
In what would be a dream come true for her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw -- Sarah Jessica Parker has turned her love of fashion into a new shoe range with Manolo Blahnik.
ADVERTISEMENT