By Natalie Robehmed for Forbes
For fashion’s elite, follower count has finally turned into fiscal fortitude. Though Gisele Bündchen still leads the world’s top-earning models with $30.5 million, Kendall Jenner (No. 3) and newcomer Gigi Hadid (No. 5) have risen up the ranks by turning their outsized Instagram followings into multi-million dollar paydays.
Gisele remains the woman to catch: The 36-year-old has made more money than any other model since 2002. She banks big from lucrative fragrance and beauty deals with Chanel , Carolina Herrera and Pantene, plus advertisements for Arezzo shoes and SkyTV in her native Brazil. More than a clotheshorse, her own line of lingerie and skincare help set her earnings apart.
Bündchen bests fellow Brazilian Adriana Lima (No. 2, $10.5 million) by $20 million. Lima, the longest-running Angel in Victoria’s Secret history, clocked her largest ever annual paycheck this year from her contract with the L Brands-owned lingerie giant, Maybelline and IWC watches, among others.
Together, the world’s 20 highest-paid models earned a cumulative $154 million between June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016, before fees and taxes; they boast close to 200 million Instagram followers combined.
The biggest gainer year over year is third-ranked Jenner, who saw her earnings increase 150% to $10 million in 2016. She has leveraged her huge social presence of 64.4 million Instagram followers—more than anyone else on the list—into million dollar deals with the likes of Estée Lauder and Calvin Klein, who likely see her social platforms as a new media buy.
“Our business has changed,” says Chris Gay, President of The Society Management, which represents Jenner. ”These models [have] become more and more influential because they are the conduits of media–not only somebody who can be the face of the campaign but a powerful means to distribute it.”
Tied with Jenner at No. 3 is Karlie Kloss, who doubled her earnings since 2015 by clocking more campaigns than any other model on the ranking. She advertised for 18 different brands in our scoring period, including Express EXPR -0.51%, L’Oréal and Swarovski.
Jenner and Kloss inch just ahead of the two highest-ranked newcomers: Hadid and Brit Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who both earned an estimated $9 million pretax to land at No. 5. Hadid has turned digital fame into dollars, translating over 22 million Instagram followers into contracts with top-notch retailers Maybelline and Tommy Hilfiger all before her 22nd birthday.
“Models, YouTube stars, social media stars–this is their era,” explains Ivan Bart, President at IMG Models, which represents Hadid. ”Models were on the cover of the last two issues of American Vogue: Gigi [Hadid] in August and Kendall [Jenner] in September.”
Across the pond, Huntington-Whiteley, recognizable from roles in the recent Mad Max: Fury Road and 2011′s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, found being an English rose could equal retail gold: A royalty cut from her own series of lingerie, make-up and fragrances lines for department store Marks & Spencers accounts for the majority of her millions.
Nearly a third of this year’s ranking are new. The list’s debutantes includes three breakout Victoria’s Secret models: Lily Aldridge, Jasmine Tookes and 20-year-old Taylor Hill, who is the youngest member to make the $4 million cut off.
Victoria’s Secret Angels make up 30% of the highest-paid models list, thanks in part to their lucrative contracts with the lingerie maker, while contractees Martha Hunt and Josephine Skriver were among the near misses for this year’s ranking.
Kate Moss (No. 13, $5 million) is the only model who featured in FORBES’ first-ever Celebrity 100 list back in 1999, alongside four other models–Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Niki Taylor.
This year, only 30% of the listmembers hail from the U.S. Three Brazilians and three Brits (Cara Delevingne, Moss and Huntington-Whiteley) make the cut, just ahead of two Dutch models (Doutzen Kroes and Lara Stone).
Save for the likes of Jasmine Tookes and Liu Wen, the majority of the list is overwhelmingly white and entirely ”straight”-sized. This reflects the lack of inclusion on catwalks and in campaigns. A recent survey by FashionSpot, which examined 236 Spring 2016 print ads, found that 78.2% of the models featured were white, while Black models made up 8.3%, Asian models comprised about 4%, and Latina models accounted for 1.7% of those featured. Despite the increased efforts of agencies to promote transgendered or plus-sized models, these women book editorial shoots but still rarely ink the lucrative long-term deals that result in six-to-seven figure paydays.
Earnings are based on income from cosmetics, fragrance and other contracts; estimates are sourced from interviews with numerous managers, agents and brand executives. Models are rarely remunerated for magazine editorials or catwalk appearances, while gigs with storied design houses pay little but give models prestigious exposure they can leverage into moneyed underwear and beauty deals.
Male models are not included in the ranking as they typically earn far less than female models—one of the only industries where the gender pay gap is reversed. The last time FORBES ranked male models, in 2013, Sean O’Pry topped the list with an estimated $1.5 million.