These days, it’s no longer enough to stalk the runways or appear on magazine covers. If you want to make it big in the modeling world, it’s almost obligatory to have a social media presence. So ubiquitous have social media influencers become (and so stratospheric has been their rise) some models are now eschewing the traditional route entirely and earning their “model” title purely by posting to Instagram. Of course, having a pretty face isn’t quite enough when it comes to social media, but today’s stars have been quick to embrace the benefits of engaging with their followers, being witty in 140 characters or less, and learning the art of strategic product placement. Find out which models are leading the pack with our rundown of the top 20 followed Instagram models in the world.
20. Lucky Blue Smith: 3m Followers
The first (and only) male model to our list makes his appearance at number 17. Lucky Blue Smith’s career took off at the age of 10 when he and his 4 siblings were all spotted by a top modeling scout. Since then, his trademark platinum blond hairdo has made an appearance on everything from French and Spanish Vogue to GQ, V and Harper's Bazaar. He’s also made several hugely successful ad campaigns for the likes of Tom Ford, Mavi, Penshoppe, H&M, Calvin Klein, Moncler, Tommy Hilfiger, Philipp Plein, Gap, and L’Oréal. As of September 2019, he can add another achievement to his list of credentials: 3 million Instagram followers.
19. Sierra Skye Egan: 4m Followers
Unlike most of our entries who made their fortunes as runway queens, Sierra Skye Egan’s modeling career begins and ends on Instagram. While she may never have appeared on the front of a magazine, she’s a shining example of how the site can be used to promote yourself to the tune of 4 million followers and multiple endorsement deals.
18. Liu Wen: 4.9m Followers
If the New York Times describes someone as “China’s first bona fide supermodel", you know they’re a name to watch. Liu Wen is just that: as well as being the first Asian to make Forbes highest-paid models list, she’s also the first Chinese model to don a pair of wings for Victoria’s Secret, the first Chinese model to grace the front cover of American Vogue and one of only 7 supermodels selected to appear on Vogue’s 125th Anniversary March 2017 issue. With achievements like that to her name, it’s of little surprise to learn that she’s the most popular Chinese model on Instagram.
17. Cindy Kimberly: 5.7m Followers
At just 19 years old, the Dutch model Cindy Kimberly is making waves all across social media. As well as having 5. 7 million followers on Instagram, she’s also pulling in thousands to her massively popular YouTube Channel.
16. Josephine Skriver: 6m Followers
With 6 million followers to her name, Danish model Josephine Skriver ranks as the 16th most followed model on Instagram. Since making her runway debut in 2011, she’s shimmied her way through over 500 shows and starred in numerous high-profile campaigns. Like many models on our list, Skriver has enjoyed a long-standing collaboration with lingerie brand Victoria Secret, ever since she first modeled for their catalog in 2013.
15.Ashley Graham: 6m Followers
Over the past few years, Ashley Graham has almost single handily turned the modeling world’s fixation with size zero, 13-year-old models on its head. Since breaking on to the scene in the early noughties, she’s proved that being plus size is no barrier to success; in addition to modeling for the likes of Curve ID SS, Marina Rinaldi, Lane Bryant, Addition Elle, Bloomingdale's, Elomi lingerie, Evans, Hanes, Liz Claiborne Macy's, Nordstrom, Simply Be and Target, she’s also made history as the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and it’s clear she’s as much of a hit with the public as she is with designers, ranking as the 15th most popular model on Instagram with 6 million followers.
14. Karlie Kloss: 8.3m Followers
In 2006, Karlie Kloss found her first job as a model. 14 years later, she enjoys one of the most high-profile careers of any model of her generation, as evidenced by her position on Vogue’s list of the top 30 models of the noughties. She’s also one of the most popular on Instagram and currently commands an impressive 8.3 million followers.
13. Miranda Kerr: 12.1m Followers
34-year-old Australian model Miranda Kerr is perhaps best known for her long-standing relationship with lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret. In addition to gracing their televised runaway every year from 2006-2009, she’s enjoyed a host of other modeling gigs, leading to her becoming one of Forbes top-earning models of 2016. She may have scaled the modeling work back in recent years to focus on her new role as a mom, but she remains one of the most influential models on Instagram, with over 12 million followers regularly tuning in to her updates.
12. Adriana Lima: 12.3m Followers
At 36 years old, Adriana Lima is proving that models don’t come with an expiry date. As Victoria Secret’s longest-running Angel, Lima has enjoyed a hugely successful career that serves as a template for younger girls looking to make it big in the industry. As well as acting as a spokesmodel for Maybelline since 2003, she’s also featured in commercials for the Super Bowl and Kia Motors and represented Sportmax, Calzedonia, and Desigual as a brand ambassador. At the time of writing, she has 12.3 million followers.
11. Barbara Palvin: 12.8m Followers
At the age of 13, Hungarian model Barbara Palvin shot her first editorial for Spur Magazine; since then, the work has poured in, taking in everything from campaigns for Armani Exchange, H&M, Victoria's Secret, Pull & Bear, and L'Oréal Paris to appearances in Sports Illustrated and Elle. As a sign of her rising popularity, her Instagram followers now number 12.8 million.
10. Candice Swanepoel: 13.6m Followers
South African model Candice Swanepoel began her modeling career after she was spotted by a modeling scout in Durban at the age of 15. Since then, she’s made waves as one of Victoria Secret’s most popular angels, a status she cemented in 2013 when she was selected to model its $10 million "Royal Fantasy Bra." She’s proved just as successful on Instagram as she in her day job; at the time of writing, she has over 13.6 million followers.
9. Gisele Bundchen: 15.4m Followers
Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen exploded onto the scene in 1998 with her appearance at Alexander McQueen's spring 1998 "rain" ready-to-wear London show. From there, her career skyrocketed, taking in hugely successful, highly paid campaigns with the likes of Missoni, Chloé, Gianfranco Ferré, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino. Since those early days, she’s added to her credentials with prolific philanthropic work, a line of sandals, and a very high-profile marriage to footballing legend Tom Brady. If you start tuning into her Instagram page, you’ll be in good company; by the most recent reckoning, the Brazilian beauty has over 15.4 million followers.
8. Hayley Baldwin: 21.3m Followers
As part of the famous Baldwin clan, Hailey has bucked the family trend of choosing a career in acting and opted for one in modeling instead. Since signing to New York agency, IMG Models, in 2016, she’s appeared in numerous fashion shows and magazines, and even managed to bag the top spot in the May 2017 edition of Maxim Magazine's list of the most beautiful women in the world. In 2019, Baldwin effectively quadrupled her fame (and her Instagram followers) overnight when she married Justin Bieber: as of September 2019, she can now count over 21.3 million among her followers.
7. Sommer Ray: 22.5m Followers
According to Business Insider, the 22-year-old model and social media influencer Sommer Ray earns a staggering 20,000 per Instagram post... . with a steady income like that (and with 22.5 million followers behind her), it’s little wonder she’s more interested in starring as the face of various Instagram campaigns than she is appearing on the catwalk.
6. Emily Ratajkowski: 24.1m Followers
Emily Ratajkowski came to our attention as one of the models cavorting next to Robin Thicke in the controversial music video to Blurred Lines. Since then, the 26-year-old has graced the pages of some of the biggest publications in the world, including the 2014 and 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. As one of the new wave of social media models, she commands a very respectable 24.1 million followers.
5. Chrissy Teigen: 25.7m Followers
Thanks to her bright, sassy witticisms, honest take on the modelling world, and fierce advocacy of body positivity, Chrissy Teigen is one of the most popular models on social media. It also helps that she’s married to one of the music business’s most celebrated performers, the appropriately named John Legend. As one of Sport’s Illustrated most familiar faces(she made her first appearance with the publication in 2010, and featured in every edition until she finally made the front cover in 2014), there’s no doubting Teigen is one of the most successful models of her generation; with 25.7 million Instagram followers at the last count, there’s also no doubting she’s one of the most followed.
4. Belle Hadid: 25.8m Followers
Belle Hadid made her modelling debut on a Flynn Skye commercial at the age of 16. Since then, she’s been a regular feature on the world’s top runways, modeling for everyone from Alexander Wang and Sies Marjan to Michael Kors, Anna Sue, Prabal Gurung, Carolina Herrera, Brandon Maxwell, Ralph Lauren, Zadig et Voltaire, Oscar de la Renta, and Versace. As a cover star, she’s graced the likes of Unconditional Magazine, Grey Magazine, Jalouse Magazine, V Magazine, Editorialist, Wonderlands, S Moda, Evening Standard, Teen Vogue, and Elle. Although she doesn’t have quite the same number of followers as her big sister Gigi, it’s unlikely she’ll be too disappointed with her 4th place position.
3. Cara Delevingne: 43.4m Followers
Cara Delevingne is clearly more than just a pair of eyebrows. As a leading light on the fashion scene, a fledgling author and an up and coming actor, the talented Brit commands the attention of over 43 million followers. Delevingne’s entrance into the modeling world was the kind few can even dream of: at the age of just 10 years old, she managed to net an editorial shoot for Vogue Italia. Since then, there’s been no looking back, and she now has several “Model of the Year” awards and prestigious modeling campaigns under her belt... along with, of course, a third-place position on our list of the most followed models on Instagram.
2. Gigi Hadid: 49.6m Followers
The older and arguably more successful Hadid sister makes her entrance at number 3. Hadid got her first modelling job at the age of just 2 years old with Baby Guess; since then, she’s gone from strength to strength, landing a contract with MG Models in 2013, debuting on New York Fashion Week just a year later, and appearing on every fashion shoot worth its salt, from the 2015 Pirelli Calendar to the front covers of Vogue, Schön, Numéro, Allure, W Magazine, and Teen Vogue. In 2017, she made history when she appeared on four worldwide versions of the March edition of Vogue. At the time of writing, she commands 49.6 million Instagram followers.
1.Kendal Jenner: 116m Followers
She may not have quite the pulling power as her famous sister, Kim (not quite yet, anyway), but when it comes to the top models on Instagram, Kendall Jenner leads the pack. Jenner first came to our attention as one of the clan on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but she’s since broken away from the reality TV bubble to forge a career as one of the top earning models of recent times. Since signing onto Wilhelmina Models modeling agency at the age of 14, she’s featured in campaigns for some of the biggest premium brands in the world, including Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana. With 116 million followers, this top influencer can expect to earn around $400,00 per post.
Written by Liz Flynn
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