Underworld: No-Name Models of China’s Showroom

“I just gritted my teeth, stepped on the crates, and started my career”

Twenty-two year-old showroom model, Wu Anning, stands on a makeshift stage comprised of two wooden crates. Speed is the essence of her job, the glitz and glamour of the modeling world doesn’t seem to make its way through to the busy wholesale showrooms of China. In one day, Wu will model close to more than 500 outfits.

Wu has been working as a showroom model since 2014 at the Sijiqing Clothing Market in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. She caters to the wholesale clients looking for new stock. Wu’s role as a model is more of a live human body reference for each garment’s fit than a fashion runway model. 

On average, her day begins at 3:30am. She’ll wake up and begin her morning routine of washing up and putting on her make up. Wu is out the door and in a taxi to start her shift at 5AM sharp. By 8Am the showrooms are buzzing with activity, and by ends day, up to 100,000 people could be visiting her showroom.

“On my busiest day, I tried on 500 dresses and felt so exhausted and dazed I could barely stand up,”

Being a showroom model has a large appeal since the salary wages are quite high. Some models can earn up to ($6021.56USD) 40,000 yuan each month. It makes Hangzhou the fourth highest paying region in China.

Though the hours are long, and holidays few. Many are flocking to become a showroom model.

Check out the short documentary from Sixthtone.


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