Hedvig Is the Reason I Buy so Many Things From Zara

The allure of the perfect e-commerce model.

Not so long ago, the role of an e-commerce model sat at the bottom rung of the desirable fashion-gig ladder. Sure, you might get paid a pretty penny for the very commerciality of it all, but it wasn't necessarily career-enhancing stuff. That is until brands realised that there's so much potential in discovering the right face for your audience. Find the model that inspires people to shop, and you have yourself the gift that keeps on giving. Not only that but as the online shopping space has become ever-more crowded, labels are all-too-aware that their identity needs to be defined and their "look" easily recognisable (not to mention you need major models to stand head-to-head with your peers).

Bag yourself an iconic '90s face (like Zara has done on multiple occasions this year), and you have not only a marketable talking point within the industry but a real wow moment for consumers too. Add those points to the fact that model shots and e-commerce imagery has become more editorialised than ever, and it's imperative you've got a subject who can meet the challenge. It is no mean feat shooting countless looks in one day and upholding enthusiasm and sass throughout the entire process.

Aymeline Valade is the 34-year-old French actress and model that Zara has recently picked up on, and Who What Wear's associate social media editor, Isabel Mundigo-Moore, is already hooked: "She makes everything look effortless and cool. I haven't actually bought something but I've had been close on a few occasions and then I had to rethink why I was about to buy those pieces." Which is fascinating, considering Isabel is more of a vintage or niche brand shopper than a Zara girl.
Semaj is my current obsession and makes me rack up the biggest shopping basket wishlist on American boutique, Lisa Says Gah. Maybe it's her wild hair or her no-makeup beauty, maybe it's the super-easy way she just throws on the prettiest pieces and makes them look relaxed… I'm not sure what the magic of the rather mysterious Semaj is (you can glean a little info in this BTS piece here, but otherwise I can't tell whether she's a model signed to an agency or just a pal of the site) but I hope she keeps popping up on my feed…
The idea of this piece first started with Hedvig Palm, the bushy-browed Swedish model, because we noticed her on every one of our favourite high street sites: From Zara to COS, Mango and more, she's instantly recognisable and yet versatile enough to work across entirely different brands and pull off the clothes with such ease. Hedvig was Byrdie editorial director, Amy Lawrenson's top choice right away.
Another one from me: Zinta. Almost permanently booked for shooting the latest pieces at online American designer boutique fwrd by Elyse Walker, keeping the same ultra-static, mega-grumpy glare in each shot. Maybe it's the incredible continuity (and great styling) that lures me in. Maybe it's that I want to be able to wear my hair slicked down in a middle parting. Maybe it's that I know she's also a polo player, pilot and regular adventurer.
We first wrote about Slovakian-Greek model, Dominika Grnova three years ago when she captured our attention and wallets repeatedly via her modelling work on ASOS. The brand often used her for their higher price point lines such as ASOS White, and since then I've seen her everywhere. These days you'll also find her at Accessorize, Nasty Gal, River Island, Urban Outfitters and, we suspect, many more. 
Cara Taylor was nominated by Byrdie's associate social media editor, Alyss Bown.  "I have a couple of 'go-to models' for when I'm online shopping, but this Zara model could be wearing a bin bag and chances are, I'd buy it," she tells me. "It's probably because she has pretty much the exact same hair and complexion as me so I can visualize myself in the clothes—but also because, she's very genetically blessed and looks just the right amount of casual with a hint of edginess. Annnd now I'm off to buy that velvet dress."
Who is your favourite? Let us know via our Facebook shopping group.

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