Aseemingly unstoppable force in the world of beauty and entertainment, members of the Kardashian-Jenner family have made big bucks as reality stars, cosmetics designers and diet tea salespeople.
Now, just months after Kylie Jenner was discovered to be on track to become the youngest self-made U.S. billionaire, it’s been announced that her sister has reclaimed her spot at the very top of the modelling industry.
Every year, Forbes releases a list of the highest-paid models in the world, this year counting earnings between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018. The latest highest-paid model is 23-year-old Kendall Jenner, sister of Kylie, who earned an impressive $22.5 million—nearly twice as much as the model in second place. Not only is it the second year in a row in which Kendall Jenner has come top of the list, but she earned half a million more than last year.
The list reveals that although the modelling industry as a whole favours teenagers who are enough of a blank canvas to complement any product, the inverse is true when it comes to the highest echelons of models.
The year’s biggest earners don’t just work with brands—they are brands unto themselves. This has been true since the dawn of the supermodel era in the 1980s, but social media has given models more control than ever at building their own personas—and by extension, their earning power.
And in contrast to the vapid stereotypes attached to the fashion industry, personality is key to the best-paid models’ success. Karlie Kloss has cultivated a following for her feminist worldview and advocacy work to get girls into coding. Chrissy Teigen is just as famous for her reliably hilarious presence on social media and lovable family as for her modelling work.
The highest paid models are all older than the average woman on the catwalk— Vogue estimates the average model’s age is around 17—suggesting that building a strong brand can also help models weather the notoriously ageist and fickle industry.
These are the ten best-paid models of 2018, and how they say they achieved modelling success.
REMY STEINER/GETTY IMAGES FOR PIAGET
10. Doutzen Kroes, 33—$8 million
“I’ve always known that beauty is also from the inside. If you’re happy, that will shine through. I’ve always believed that, but since I’ve started having a family, I became even more happy, and I think it even shows more. I’ve also become more successful since I’ve become a mother. To me, that’s like proof that if you’re happy that’s good for you, and people see that.” Doutzen Kroes, The Cut
8. (tie) Joan Smalls, 30—$8.5 million
“I guess I made my career happen by being determined, and just seeing your outcome, regardless of the journey it takes… Always surround yourself with people that believe in you like you believe in yourself, and who are creative and who inspire you. That’s the main recipe for success.” Joan Smalls, Harper’s Bazaar8. (tie) Bella Hadid, 22—$8.5 million
“My mom always said there’s prettier girls in the world, there’s harder working girls in the world… if you can’t be nice and work hard, somebody else will.” Bella Hadid, The Guardian
7. Gigi Hadid, 23—$9.5 million
“People say that I don’t deserve to be where I am because I come from this successful family, but my parents were fucking hard-working… My dad was a refugee, my mum was on a farm, went to New York and worked to send money back to her family. They worked their asses off and they’ve given me a life because of their hard work, and I work hard to honor that.” Gigi Hadid, Daily Mail
5. (tie) Cara Delevingne, 26—$10 million
“I am a very outwardly free person, even though sometimes I don’t feel that way inside. The way I view the world is… there are so many rules. I see the world like a box and a maze, and in everything I’ve ever done, people have been like, ‘This is the way it’s got to be.’ And I’ve always been, like, ‘Bhaaaaah! Break all the rules! Smash all the things down!’” Cara Delevingne, GQ
5. (tie) Gisele Bundchen, 38—$10 million
“When anyone asks me for advice, the first thing I say is, ‘Get quiet, find your inner voice, and listen to it as carefully as possible.’ Avoid taking things personally. People will say things to you — and about you — but try not to let their words affect you. Other people’s words have almost nothing to do with you and almost everything to do with them. Instead, ask yourself: What do I really want? And why? Be as clear as you can about your intentions.” Gisele Bundchen, Harper’s Bazaar