Foreign models are appearing more frequently on Vietnamese catwalks, in Vietnamese music video clips, and even as promotion girls.
Russian model Eduard Kaznov has worked in Vietnam for nearly three years. He became the cover face of a famous magazine for men in Vietnam and was recently in pop star Ho Ngoc Ha’s video, “Seeking the dream.”
Kaznov works for Tsquared, a firm providing foreign models run by Vietnamese American model Tommy Tran. Tsquared is the first company to supply this service in Vietnam. Elite Vietnam has recently entered the Vietnamese market as an agency for foreign models.
Kaznov is the only model that has worked for Tsquared for three years. Other foreign models often stay in Vietnam for one to three months. Vietnam is just one of their destinations in Asia. Most foreign models come from Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic, Russia, and Romania, while others come from the Philippines, Japan, and even Africa.
Tsquared and Elite Vietnam hire the highest number of foreign models at the beginning and the end of the year, with highs of around 10-12 models. Working conditions for foreign models at these firms are very good. They stay in rented apartments worth $1,000-1,200/month, with utilities paid for, and an additional stipend. They earn income once they work as models at fashion shows.
If models choose to work as promotion girls, they can earn around $300 for every 3-4 hours of work and $350 for each fashion show. However, models only collect 75-80 percent of the fee because the remaining salary belongs to their agency in Vietnam.
The income is not as high as some other markets, but foreign models still work in Vietnam because they have an opportunity to travel and can gain experience before seeking a foothold in other global fashion centers. After three months in Vietnam, they may go to another Asian country.
Adrien Coutus, a French model, signed a contract with Elite Vietnam in August 2008 and has worked with the company ever since. Each year, he works in Vietnam for three to six months.
Some foreigners have become temporary models in Vietnam. These people accept pay that is the equivalent of one-third or half of what professional models make. Temporary models may not work at shows that showcase elite, professional models.
Whether they are amateur or professional models, foreign models in Vietnam are ready to audition anytime and are able to meet the stringent requirements set by employers. Managers of both Tsquared and Elite Vietnam praised the professionalism of foreign models.
Former supermodel Thuy Hanh, a manager with Elite Vietnam, said: “Foreign models are willing to work anytime. They don’t care whether their customers are famous or not while Vietnamese models often ask, ‘Why do I have to audition?”
Ivy Tran, model manager at Tsquared, said: “Most foreign models will pursue the ideal assignment, while Vietnamese models only want to highlight themselves, not products. We have never gotten into any trouble with foreign models.”