NEW YORK • Kendall Jenner drew flak earlier this year when she said she was not like other models who said yes to any runway job. Her counterparts in the industry said they needed work to pay the bills.
But her decision to be selective and pace herself has not hurt her earning power.
For the second year in a row, Jenner tops Forbes magazine's list of best-paid models, with US$22.5 million (S$31 million).
Her income is almost double that of Karlie Kloss, at No. 2.
Chrissy Teigen and Rosie Huntington-Whitely are tied at No. 3 in the list which computes earnings between June 1 last year and June 1 this year.
The list is peppered with well-known names even as The Fashion Spot gave the thumbs-up to the fashion industry's efforts to embrace diversity and inclusiveness.
For instance, 27.9 per cent of the models who sashayed down last year's fall runways were women of colour, the highest proportion since the publication started to monitor the data 21/2 years ago.
The industry has also opened doors to plus-size and transgender models on the runways.
But the runway is still a relatively small platform to take flight, earnings-wise.
Pundits say the names on Forbes' top 10 list fly higher because of their ability to land contracts outside of runway work, with a big lift coming from their mega social media presence which appeals to advertisers.
"It's easier to make runways more diverse because you're casting anywhere from 25 to 50-plus models for a show, versus maybe a handful at most who would get cast for campaigns," Ms Tyler McCall, deputy editor at Fashionista, told the Broadly lifestyle portal.
"Runways very often do not pay at all, or pay in something called 'trade' - which just means the brand gifts the models clothes for labour.
"So while it's easier to have progress on the runway, that's not going to result in any big pay cheques. Those ad jobs and contracts from big paying companies still by and large go to thin, white women.
"To make the top earners' list more diverse, advertisers would have to start looking outside the typical pool of models (usually ones who are already pretty famous or Instagram famous) for projects and long-term partnerships."
But it is doubtful if advertisers are willing to make such switches any time soon.
This year's top 10 list saw Adriana Lima, Ashley Graham and Liu Wen missing the cut, with all three earning just below Forbes' US$8 million cut-off.