Many people see China as the new untapped market with cutting edge fashions and a world of opportunity.
Before you travel there, there are things to consider.
What do you hope to gain from your experience? Money? Party time? Tearsheets? Worldly experience?
Let's take a look at your expenses, all of which will be advanced to you and that you must pay back in full with the jobs you complete. (Note: Asia is the only market that does this. Everywhere else you are required to front all of your own costs.)
Everything will be discussed in Chinese currency because that is how you will be getting paid. They will not pay you in USD and they will laugh in your face if you ask. If you want the proper conversions, do them yourself with a calculator. The current conversion is 6.8 to the dollar.
Flight ticket (round trip): 10,000 to 12,000 RMB
Agency cost of apartment: 3000-3500 RMB/month
Actual cost of apartment: 1800-3000 RMB/month
Agency cost of transportation by taxis or by driver: 3000-5000/month
Actual cost: 700-2000/month
Agency cost of portfolio book: 1000
Actual cost: 100 RMB
Agency cost of comp cards: 1000
Actual cost: 100-150
Allowance or "pocket money": 300-400/week
Prices of jobs on average (of working with the best agency or one of the top agencies):
Runway: 1800-2000 RMB
Magazine: 200-700 RMB
TVC (commercials): dependent on usage & client but typically 6000+
Be aware that your Chinese agency will take 40% and your mother agency will take 10% leaving you with 50% to pay off your debts.
It gets rather complicated with the payment system since you're not paying back the total cost but rather just the meager 50% from jobs.
I will try to give you an example of a typical situation:
Model's flight: 10,000 RMB
Rent for 3 months: 3000x3 = 9000 RMB
Comps & book: 1000 + 1000 = 2000 RMB
Transportation with driver 3000x3 months: 9000 RMB
Pocket money for 3 months: 300x12 = 3600
TOTAL: 33,600 RMB
Now, say the model books 2 catalogs, 8 shows, and 3 events:
Catalog for 6 hours at 800/hr: 4800 RMB
Catalog for 12 hours at 900/hr: 10,800 RMB[b/]
8 Runway shows at 1800/show: [b]14,400 RMB
Carshow event: 2000 RMB
2 various events at 1800/event: 3600 RMB
TOTAL - agency cuts of 50% = 17,800
NOW, with this remaining money the model must pay off their debt:
Model's total expenses: -33,600 RMB
Model's earnings: 17,800
The model OWES 15,800 in this scenario. S/he did not make any money.
This is a typical situation for most models, and how they do not make money. The expenses far exceed the income with the agency's cut and how much they charge you for expenses.
This has happened to me 3 times in China over the course of a year.
Now on to Tearsheets?
Beijing is the market to get tears. Shanghai has very few editorial magazines. The quality of work in China is not up to par with major markets such as LA, NY, Milan etc. Their idea of fashion is far different than that of major markets and they are still developing their fashion scene. Also with the huge influx of models going to work there and the intense competition between agencies, the rates of jobs are going down. For example, when I first traveled there over 2 years ago shows were 2000 RMB and they've dropped to 1800 since. My friends who traveled to China over 6 years ago remember rates for shows as much as 3000-4000.
Types of models who work best:
5'7" curvy models with bigger measurements
Types of models who work least:
Black haired models
Redheads (they consider redheads "diseased" and I swear I'm not joking)
I've written this thread as un-biased as I possibly could. Now that you are armed with a better knowledge of the market you can decide if it's right for you.