Hong Kong (HK) is a market loved by almost every model that has worked in the city. Known as “Asia's New York City,” Hong Kong is a very developed, fast-paced, and Westernized city filled with expatriates from all around the world. A mix of work and pleasure, HK is a market where models can work relatively well and have the downtime to enjoy the city. In light of this, many models choose to be based in Hong Kong for longer than the standard contract duration. The longer a model stays in HK, the more their exposure and work increases.
Hong Kong clients tend to cater primarily to local consumers and hire models that locals can relate to. As such, most clients will primarily hire brunettes, Eurasian models, or “Eurasian looking” models for most jobs, especially when it comes to commercial work. These types of models - (male and female) - will find the most success in Hong Kong as well as in Southeast Asian markets like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and Bangkok (Thailand).
Non-Eurasian models and blondes can also find work in Hong Kong if they have a unique look or look very sweet/cute look. They can book plenty of campaigns, catalogues, editorials, runway, as well as presentations, and events, but commercial work (where the most money lies) is minimal.
Agencies and clients in Hong Kong prefer models (male and female) to be relatively slim. For lingerie/swimsuit castings, proportion is more important than the size of a woman's breasts or buttocks.
Agencies and clients in Hong Kong are more lenient when it comes to the size of a female model's hips but she must be in good shape and a 36" (92cm) hip is the maximum.
Bust: 30-34” (76-86cm)
Waist: 23-26” (58-66cm)
Hips: 33-36” (86-92cm)
Chest: 34-40” (86-102cm)
Waist: 30-33” (76-84cm)
The above measurements for male models in Hong Kong are standard. Male models can have a chest size that is an inch over the norm but this applies to commercial male models only.
Those male models with slightly lower measurements can still work in Hong Kong but they may be restricted to working only editorial and runway jobs. They could also have the potential shoot a couple campaigns but the competition for those is incredibly high. But if a male model has a good personality, sweet look, and a good agency pushing him, there's no reason they cannot work well.
Unlike some markets in Europe (e.g. Paris), age doesn't play too much of a factor in Hong Kong. As long as the model takes good care of themselves and are pleasant to work with, clients rarely pay attention to a model's age.
Older male models (24+) do however tend to book more commercial jobs. Female models 25 and older are common in Hong Kong and they can still work well. Most of the female models who are older and Eurasian turn towards becoming a “celebrity” or pursuing other ventures such as casting.
However, most models who that are in their mid-20's who are modelling in Hong Kong have been to the market before and already are familiar with some clients so work remains steady for them. Hong Kong is a market many models can find longevity in so it's encouraged that a model tries out the market earlier in their career.
Models who work well in Hong Kong
The following list is to work as a guide for other models to get an idea of which models have done very well in the Hong Kong market. This way, they can get a rough idea if their look is suitable for the market.
Although these models have found success in the market, the modelling industry is unpredictable; just because a model does well in a market once doesn't necessarily mean they'll do well there again. Timing, luck, and “looks of the moment” are large indicators of a model's success.
Aleksandra Wodzinska - Poland - Style
Azusa Hyde - Australia - Model One
Madi Ross - Canada - Style
Taylor Richard - Canada - Starz People
Brandon Tyler Wilson - Canada - Model Management
Chris Peterson - United States - Model One
Michael Kreiger - United States - Models International
Cara G - Australia - Starz People
Hong Kong “Celebrity Phenomenon”
A unique thing about Hong Kong is that they love celebrities; especially ones from Hong Kong. Being a HK celebrity is usually exclusive only to Eurasian or "Eurasian looking" models but there are a couple exceptions, such as Taylor Richard from Canada.
But becoming a Hong Kong celebrity is not as simple as possessing the desire to be one. Models need to be charming, relatable, likeable, and usually be pursuing other interests to the side as well.
Although not all models succeed, being a Hong Kong celebrity has many perks: you attend events, get a significantly higher rate, and proper development and exposure can lead to high paying bookings all across Asia.
If a model has the desire to become a celebrity, trhere are only a handful of agencies that have the knowledge and capability to make a model a Hong Kong “celebrity” and develop their brand. These are: Calcarrie's, Model One, Style, and Starz.
Starz people in Hong Kong is the most renowned for developing models into HK celebrities. Taylor Richard, Cara Grogran, and Maggie Q have developed strong names for themselves in the market and in Asia generally.
Types of Jobs & Rates
There is a large variety of different jobs in Hong Kong. From campaigns, commercials, look books, catalogues, print advertisement's, advertorials, editorials, presentations, runway, events, etc., Hong Kong has it all.
It's possible to make good money in Hong Kong but the competition – especially during high season (May-October) – is very high and rates have lowered over the years. Even so, there are still good paying campaigns, print ad's, and commercials from which models can earn a decent sum of money. The rates for jobs in Hong Kong are also dependent upon not necessarily the type of job but the brand. A model can shoot a catalogue for one client for 10,000HKD but he or she can shoot another for 30,000HKD.
Although Hong Kong is in China, it's very important to point out that the jobs in HK differ greatly than those in China. The jobs in Hong Kong are pleasant, pay much better (depending on the jobs you do), clients speak English, have nice and better quality clients, and models get to castings and bookings by themselves.
However, on occasion, your agency may have a client in mainland China and you'll will be asked to go there for a job you either booked from a casting or for a direct booking. . Although many models dislike working in China, a direct booking isn't so bad because it's usually only for the day and the jobs pay relatively well.
This doesn't occur too often unless your agency sends you to one of their offices in China.
Note: The rates provided below are only to serve as average estimated figures of the potential earnings that can be made. A model's rate can be either higher or lower and is dependent upon: their agency, the client, type of job, terms of usage, a model's experience, and their reputation in the fashion and modelling industries.
Whether it be shooting print advertisements, campaigns, or TVC'S (television commercials), there is a lot of commercial work in Hong Kong. These jobs are usually only for Eurasian or Eurasian-looking models because like Singapore, Hong Kong caters to its market and its people.
Commercial jobs in Hong Kong can pay very well and this can lead to very large jobs with buy out potential.
Clients include: Samsung, Samsonite, Sony, Colgate, Pizza Hut, Pantene, HSBC, Olympus, Blue Girl, various property jobs, and many more.
Rate: The rate for commercial jobs range but a campaign for a larger client like Samsung or HSBC, a model can expect to receive upwards of 40,000HKD ($5400 CDN). However, it is key to point out that these jobs are few and far between and don't occur too frequently.
Catalogues & Lookbooks
There are nowhere near as many catalogues in Hong Kong as there are in mainland China. A model might do a few catalogue shootings during their contract duration but there are never as many as there are in China.
Rate: Catalogues can pay anywhere between 10,000-30,000HKD ($1350-4000 CDN) for a full day shooting (8 hours). Although such a range is large, the rate depends almost entirely on the brand and its popularity.
Look books are quite common in Hong Kong. The types of look books range from online fashion outlets (e.g. Dear Miss), large HK fashion brands (e.g. Bauhaus, Katie Judith), as well as look books for bridal companies.
Rate: The rate for look books vary greatly. A look book can be anywhere between 7500HKD ($1000 CDN) for a half day (4-5 hours) shooting to upwards of 20,000HKD ($2700 CDN) for a full day (8 hours).
As shopping online becomes more and more popular, companies in HK and mainland are selling their clothes online. Although HK doesn't have too many e-commerce websites that use foreign models, Yes Style has become one of the more popular online shopping websites stationed out of HK. A casting for the client is important because if they like the model they work with, they will re-book her each week.
Other clients include those from mainland China. Sometimes a model will go to China to shoot for an e-commerce client for a day or even for a whole week.
Clients include: Yes Style in Hong Kong and clients in mainland China.
Rate: E-commerce shoots usually last between five-eight hours. If the shoot is five hours, it will usually pay 5000 HKD ($665 CDN).
If the shoot is eight hours and you become a regular for the client, it will often pay between 800-1000 HKD/hour ($106-132 CDN).
Print advertisements are a very good way to make money in Hong Kong. Although they are not always easy to get, having a couple under your belt can help you pay off your expenses quick.
Clients include: Bauhaus, Sony Ericsson, Jill Stuart, Sony Cybershot, San Miguel Beer, Somersby, Texwood Apple, and many more.
Rate: The average rate for a print advertisement is 20,000HKD ($2700 CDN) minimum. Depending on the brand and the usage, print ad's can pay even more and upwards of 40,000HKD ($5400 CDN). However, the days of print advertisements paying 40,000HKD are said to be long gone. With more models coming into town, more agencies, and penny-pinching clients, rates have begun to lower over the years.
Advertorial & Editorial
Models can potentially build a book in Hong Kong but not all the agencies have the good editorial clients. For the models whose agencies do have the clients, there is the potential to get some very good tears.
Many models get concerned that they won't be able to use Asian tearsheets in the European and American markets. Although there are some tearsheets in Hong Kong that are English, there is a growing acceptance of Asian tearsheets from agencies around the world. Your agency in Europe or America may decide to keep some so long as they channel a “European” style and are not too cute.
There are a large amount of magazines in Hong Kong. There are the monthly publications such as Elle, Cosmopolitan etc., And there are the weekly publications such as Milk, More, Fashion & Beauty etc.
If a client likes a model from a weekly publication e.g. Milk, they will use the model many times during their contractual stay. Even though the rate for editorials is low, they do add up and can help a model to pay off their expenses.
Clients: Cosmopolitan, Darizi, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Fashion & Beauty, Prestige, Flash On, Me Magazine, Jessica, Lisa, Manifesto, Marie Claire, Milk, More, Jessica, Ketchup, Solitaire, as well as many others.
Shooting for various HK newspapers is also common in the market and the rate is the same as it is for magazines. The photos from these jobs are often not good for a model's book but the jobs tend to last for only a couple two hours., even if it's scheduled to last for a half day.
Rate: 800-1000 HKD($108-135 CDN) for a half day (4 hours). The over-time rate for an editorial is 250 HKD/hour ($40 CDN approx.,).
Note: Although the rate for editorials is low, if a model works for them often and if they start to become well known/popular in the market, their rate for these newspapers will be higher and can range from 1000-3000 HKD ($135-400 CDN). In order to receive a higher rate, the model can ask their agency to get ask for a higher rate for them; or if the model is working well, the agency will automatically start charging the client more to book their model.
Advertorials are also quite common in Hong Kong. An advertorial is an advertisement for a specific brand in an editorial (magazine). The brands could be for Adidas, Chanel, Max Mara, Dazzlin, and various other brands. Even though the advertisement is in a magazine, advertorials do pay more than a regular editorial.
Rate: The rate for an advertorial can be anywhere between 2000-4000 HKD ($270-540 CDN). The rate also depends on the magazine publishing the advertorial and the brand.
Events & Presentations
Events and presentations are very common in Hong Kong. Events can include hotel openings, new product launches, beauty demonstrations, store openings etc. The events in Hong Kong are very fun, social, and professional and are an easy way for a model to earn relatively good money and network.
Presentations/Trunk shows are very common in Asia. They are private events for top clients of the company hosting the presentation coming in to see new products that the models will be modelling e.g. jewelry. Beauty presentations are also quite common in Hong Kong; a make-up demo done in a public setting.
Events and presentations clients include: Kiehl's, Levi's, Clinique, Shu Uemura, Ipsa, Coach, YSL, Shiseido, Tudor, Cle de Peau, Swarovski, Kerastase etc. The events and presentations also are usually between 4-5 hours. However, most of the time the event is a model getting their hair and makeup done and waiting for the event to start that usually lasts itself a maximum of 2 hours.
Rate: The standard rate for working at an event or presentation is about 4800-5000HKD ($675 CDN) for a half day (4-5 hours).
Hong Kong is home to many of its own brands and there are plenty of campaigns to be booked. But the competition – especially during high busy season – is high so the chance of shooting a campaign can be hard and depends on the strength of the model as well as the agency..
Clients include: Emperor Jewelry, Giordano, Kinetic, Sasa, Bossini, Moiselle, Bauhaus, Staccato, Regina, Miracle, Texwood Apple, I.T. Brands (e.g.) etc. i.t. Brands , as well as many others brands and shopping malls around HK.
Note: Once models have arrived to Hong Kong, they'll have a good amount of castings at I.T.; a large fashion conglomerate that distributes many European fashion brands and who also have their own brands under 'i.t.' such as: B+ab, 5cm, Fingercroxx etc.
Rate: The rate for shooting a fashion campaign in Hong Kong is usually between 20,000-30,000+ HKD ($2700-4000 CDN).
Runway shows occur in Hong Kong year round but Fashion week in HK is held two times per year:
Spring/Summer: Beginning-mid July
Fall/Winter: beginning-mid July and beginning-mid January.
There are also many fashion shows held throughout the year in Hong Kong for various local designers, college student designers, as well as world renowned brands like Chanel, Vivienne Westwood etc.
Rate: The normal rate for a runway show is on avg.: 5000HKD ($675 CDN) per show., This rate includesing fittings, rehearsals, and hair and make up prep.
Hong Kong is known for being generally slow but steady year round. The high season however does begin in the middle of May and lasts until about October. February should be avoided at all costs because of Chinese New Year. The entire month is considered a holiday and a write off because nobody works during this time is working.
Hong Kong is filled with some very good agencies but it's about finding the agency that fits your look best. Some have been around for years and have a strong reputation while others are relatively new. There are also some agencies in Hong Kong that have offices in mainland China. For models who work well in China or don't mind going, working with one of these agencies could be very beneficial. Catalogues in mainland China do pay well but outfit changes can be over 100 and days can last 10-12 hours.
Some of the agencies who have offices in mainland China will send their models to Guangzhou to work between there and Hong Kong. Working between Guangzhou and Hong Kong is okay for some models because they're able to book some good paying catalogue jobs while also getting to work and visit Hong Kong.
However, there are also some agencies who also have been are known for sending their models to Guangzhou the mainland for work even after just a couple weeks after they have arrived to Hong Kong. Even though the contract states the model is to work in Hong Kong, they can send him/her without much notice and keep them there for the remaining duration of the contract. This can be very frustrating for some models because mainland China is a very different market than Hong Kong. If such an event occurs for a model, it's encouraged that they speak to their mother agency as soon as possible to discuss these arrangements.
If a model isn't interested in working in mainland China, it's strongly encouraged they sign with an agency that only has an office in Hong Kong. Agencies with mainland offices are noted below for convenience:
Calcarries – Celebrity, Commercial, and Editorial. Offices in mainland China
Dreammodels - Commercial and Editorial
Mission Models - Commercial, Editorial, and Fashion. A new division of Model Genesis.
Model Genesis – Commercial & Editorial. Office in mainland China.
Model Management – Commercial and Editorial. Office in mainland China
Model One - Celebrity, Commercial, and Editorial
Models International – Commercial and Editorial. Office in mainland China
Primo - (Formerly known as Elite) Commercial and Editorial.
Quest - New agency
Role Models - New agency
Starz People - Celebrity, Commercial, and Editorial.
Style - Celebrity, Commercial, Editorial, and Fashion
Synergy - Office in mainland China
Note: The Business Model does not necessarily endorse any of the above agencies. The following list is to serve as a directory so that models may be aware of the current active agencies in the market. Before signing with any agency, TBM encourages all models to read contracts carefully.
Note: Be sure to write down the number of your card in case of loss or theft. This way, you will be able to get a new card with the old value on it restored.
Words of Advice
Be nice - Although the advice may seem redundant, it cannot be emphasized enough. It's imperative that models be kind and professional to people they work with. Even if a model may not be social or extroverted, it's important to be pleasant and do your best. Agencies and clients in Hong Kong appreciate a model who smiles and doesn't act like a diva.
Wearing make up – Clients in Hong Kong like it when a model wears a little bit of make up. It shows you look more put together and put an effort into your appearance for them. Sometimes however, models take it too far and end up wearing eyeliner and eye shadow as though they're going out on the town. Even if your agency tells you to wear makeup, they want it to look simple and natural. Try to enhance your best features as opposed to hiding under a mask.
Climate – When you arrive to Hong Kong, especially during the summer months (May-August), you'll find the weather to be incredibly hot and humid. You will find yourself walking around a lot all day so be sure to wear comfortable clothes as well as to stay hydrated. Many shops as well as the MTR (metro) will also have their air conditioning set on high so you may want to pay a scarf or cardigan in your bag or purse to have on hand.
Acne – Combined with the humid climate, air quality for, and jet lag, some models may find that they go through an initial breakout. This usually lasts only for a couple weeks and then your pimples should begin to go away. Although it can be frustrating, try not to over cleanse, wash off all your make up, use an oil-free moisturizer, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep. If the problem persists after a couple weeks, consult with your agency about seeing a dermatologist.
Nightlife – The nightlife in Hong Kong is renown for being sensational and for a model, it's even better. Models in Hong Kong get treated incredibly well with exclusive privileges and there are plenty of model dinners and clubs to choose from. Although this sounds exciting, models should be on their best behaviour and not get too involved in the scene. Even though it's good to be social in Hong Kong, it's important you maintain a positive reputation. It's not good to have a reputation as a “party girl” or “party guy.” partier. Word spreads like wildfire in HK and if people start talking, you could lose out on potential bookings and leave a bad impression on your agency.
Top Photographers & Stylists
Hong Kong has some very distinguished photographers and stylists but there are a few who have very strong reputations in the industry.
Olivia Tsang is the most prominent photographer in all of Hong Kong. She is connected to Lane Crawford (the largest luxury department store in HK) I.T. (a fashion conglomerate with many different brands) Harper's Bazaar, and many other clients. Any shoot with Olivia Tsang is guaranteed to look beautiful in a model's portfolio..
Known as, 'Zero Man', Man Tsang in another prominent photographer in HK recently shooting for Marie Claire. Although he's not as popular as Olivia Tsang, he has a good reputation in the industry and his photos are beautiful; work is garnering more and more attention in the HK scene.
Another popular photographer is Kevin Poon who works for many editorial clients e.g. Ketchup Magazine) and has developed a strong reputation in the Hong Kong fashion scene.
Kenneth Wong is one of Hong Kong's most prominent stylists working for the likes of Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, Lane Crawford, and various commercial clients.
Whenever you work with a photographer, stylist, or make-up artist (MUA) who has a strong reputation, it's important that you do your absolute best at the shoot. You want to leave as good of an impression as possible. This way, the photographer, stylist or MUA will remember you and have you in the back of their mind when selecting a model for potential future bookings.
Offer Guarantee: No
Unlike mainland China, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan, Hong Kong does not offer models a guaranteed contract. HK is not able to offer guaranteed contracts because the competition is very high with there being too many models in the city and not enough jobs for everyone.
Even though agencies in Hong Kong don't offer models a guarantee, models shouldn't be deterred from working in the market. They can still earn good money and get some tear sheets to help build their portfolio.
Expenses Advanced: Yes
Agencies in Hong Kong will advance a model's accommodations and airfare if they're it’s requested.
Standard Contract: 2-3+ months
The standard contract is usually between two to three months. However, many models end up staying upwards of 6 months in Hong Kong because they love the city.
Hong Kong is also a type of market where the longer the model stays and work well, they will gain popularity with clients over time. In turn getting more jobs, better quality jobs, and a better rate.
Languages Spoken: English, Chinese (Cantonese and some Mandarin)
Almost everyone in Hong Kong, at least on the island, speaks English. Models should have no problem getting around the city or communicating with locals. However, if a model should find themselves going on a job to mainland China, they will face a language barrier.
Model Apartments: Fair
The model apartments in Hong Kong are renowned for being very small. Property in Hong Kong is very expensive and as a result, rent prices are quite high. Model apartments tend to charge models between 4000HKD-5000HKD a month. Models can try to find their own place and although it may be a bit cheaper – depending on the area – it might be difficult to find a place to rent.
People: The people in Hong Kong are generally very friendly and helpful. If a model every has any problems finding a certain building or bus stop, locals are willing to help! It's not uncommon for a local to help a model even walk to their destination to make sure that they arrive safely.
Food - The local cuisine in Hong Kong is delicious but might be too heavy to eat on a regular basis or not good for you if you have any special dietary needs e.g. Celiac (gluten intolerant). This can lead to trouble finding foods suitable for you, especially since some of the products you regularly eat back home may not be available or are very expensive. Below we have provided a list of some of Hong Kong's best eateries and shops to help you eat healthy and live well:
Restaurants & Shops: Life Cafe, Mana, Loving Hut, Great Salads, Dressed, Just Green, Genie Concept, City Super, Cafe O.