Instead of spending the end of August moving to college, 18-year-old Erica Snyder from Longview spent it in New York preparing to model during fashion week.
The Mark Morris 2022 graduate took to her first shows on Saturday and Wednesday before flying to Europe to hopefully model in Milan and Paris Fashion Week.
Snyder, a varsity athlete in basketball, football, and track and field, had planned to attend Willamette University in Salem and compete on the track team immediately after graduation.
Although Snyder said she didn’t grow up wanting to be a model, when given the option of pursuing him during one of the fashion industry’s busiest times of the year, she decided to postpone his first university term.
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“I really love this school and I fell in love with the coaches and the environment. It seemed like the safe bet and the right option,” she said. “Modeling is not a safe option, but it seemed like an opportunity you can’t pass up, that few people have.”
Snyder plans to start at Willamette University in January, to study political science, environmental science or law.
In early 2020, Portland-based Muse Model Management reached out to Snyder on Instagram and invited her to an open call, where the agency meets new faces and offers contracts to those they love.
Snyder signed with the agency, which told her she wanted her to become an international model, she said. This meant she wouldn’t get many local gigs and had to wait until she was 18. The pandemic also put modeling on the back burner for about two years, Snyder said.
This year, Snyder signed with Next Model Management in New York and traveled across the country in August to prepare for fashion week.
“I always had in mind that it could happen, but it was a big stretch,” she said.
Fashion week takes place twice a year when designers and brands present their latest collections at shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
To walk the runways, models like Snyder attend castings in hopes of being called back and getting a spot in the runway. Casting directors often represent multiple brands, which reduces the number of castings to attend but makes them more important, Snyder said.
On Saturday, Snyder walked in her first Fashion Week show for Marni, an Italian luxury fashion brand.
“It was a lot of fun, an experience I had never had before,” she said. “Being on the track is something you can’t compare to anything else. It’s a crazy feeling.”
Snyder was due to appear at American designer Tom Ford’s Wednesday night show before leaving for Milan.
While she has traveled to Canada and Mexico, this will be Snyder’s first time to Europe.
“(My mom) tells me, even though I’m paying a lot, to make the most of being young and having the opportunity to travel and see the world,” Snyder said. “Even if modeling doesn’t work out, at least I get the chance to go to Italy and travel a bit before college.”
Heather Snyder said it was surreal to see her daughter on the shows and hear about her encounter with the “industry bigwigs”.
“We are thrilled to have helped Erica take this risky detour into her future because she is having such an amazing experience,” Snyder wrote in an email. “We’re so proud of her, not just for her success as a model, but for her remarkable maturity in learning to hold her own in New York (and soon Milan) and truly owning her own success.”
Over the past month, Erica Snyder says she’s learned a lot about the fashion industry and the daily exposure has heightened her interest in it.
“It’s a lot more open to different styles and looks than I thought it would be,” she said. “Everyone has their own look that they’re going for or a ride that makes them unique. The fact that they’re going after things that set you apart is something I didn’t expect to see.