In contrast to the careers of many models, the duration of Kendall Jenner’s follows a path very similar to her own life: public, inherited and well-funded. While some argue that her career began at age 14, her career truly began just one year ago when she walked her first major runway show for Marc Jacobs. The social media starlet has since been named the face of Estée Lauder and, as of last week, the face of Calvin Klein’s most recent #MyCalvins campaign.
This past year has proven to be the most imperative in Jenner’s career, as she has appeared in campaigns for Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as walked in New York, London, Paris and Milan runway shows of designers such as Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta and Fendi. It was no surprise that Jenner was the most tweeted about model during fashion month.
Jenner told Teen Vogue, “I always looked up to supermodels, thinking about how amazing they are. I always wanted to be in photos … I wanted to get started, but I was young, and I wanted to do young things … I had to grow into myself. I couldn’t really go out there as a 15-year-old. I mean, I know that some girls do, but I couldn’t. I’d grown up in the spotlight, and I needed to be a kid for a minute.”
There is, however, debate over whether a designer’s choice to cast Kendall as a model is a choice of preference, or just a smart business move. Kendall’s older sister, Kim Kardashian West, often receives invitations to these high profile fashion shows. However, Kendall’s presence during these shows increases the odds that A-listers, such as Kim and Kanye West, will bring attention to the show by using social media. When she first got cast as a runway model for Marc Jacobs one year ago, Jenner remembers, “getting a phone call from Kim … ‘I just wanted to let you know, I just got an invite to the Marc show. I don’t think it’s a good idea that I go. Do you agree?’ And I was like, ‘I completely agree’ … She obviously is who she is, and it would’ve almost taken the attention away from me.”
This could be due to the somewhat new trend referred to as “social media modeling,” a movement that allows up-and-coming models from all sorts of backgrounds to gain a major following through a strong social media following, rather than a successful runway career. These are models such as Gigi Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Suki Waterhouse, Cara Delevingne and — of course — Kendall Jenner. The nature of this trend has been lightly debated, yet its influence on both the industry, as well as modern culture, is undeniable.