Cover Stars: Idols who Also Became Fashion Models

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Cover Stars: Idols who Also Became Fashion Models

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An idol’s job is, essentially, to give their audience energy. They sing, they dance and they talk while forming a connection between the stage and the spectators. But that’s not all they have to be—every girl has their own personality and interests that color their idol career. There are idols with a passion for fashion, and some take it a step further and venture into the fashion industry. While staying active as an idol they also become models and style icons even beyond the idol world.

Mai Shiraishi (Nogizaka46) – Ray/LARME

Perhaps one of the most prominent idols in the modelling industry, Mai Shiraishi has risen to the top and taken more fans with her and she consistently models in the fashion line for several magazines. As a regular model for LARME and Ray, she effortlessly pulls off both sweet and elegant styles.

Nanase Nishino (Nogizaka46) – non-no


Another top player from Nogizaka46, Nanase Nishino is steadily raking in the female fans as she appears in every month’s issue of Non-no magazine. She’s often praised for her clean, girl-next-door image, which both males and females fall in love with.

Asuka Saito (Nogizaka46) – sweet

The youngest member of Nogizaka46’s first generation, Asuka Saito began her career modelling for publications in 2015 with teenage magazine CUTiE. The same year she moved to sweet, a magazine geared towards women in their late 20s. Despite still being a teenager, Saito already has a sense of elegance and refined beauty.

Matsumura Sayuri (Nogizaka46) – CanCam

First generation Nogizaka46 member Sayuri Matsumura is cute and she knows it—modelling fashionable outfits for a magazine might as well be second nature for her. She became a model for CanCam, a popular fashion magazine for women in their early 20s, and made her first cover in 2018. The surprise wasn’t Matsumura becoming a cover girl, but her outfit. She dressed as a panda, a rare but adorable occasion for the magazine.

Hina Kawago (Nogizaka46) – Popteen


For Hina Kawago, being a model for popular girls’ magazine Popteen is a big source of motivation to work harder and shine both as a model and an idol. As the only Undergirl in Nogizaka46 active in modeling, there’s a certain pressure when grouped alongside the other more prominent girls. But Kawago, who’s dreamed of being a model since elementary school, is using this opportunity to make a name for herself and overcome her challenges.

Shiori Kubo (Nogizaka46) – Seventeen

In 2017 third generation Nogizaka46 member Shiori Kubo became the first in the group to join Seventeen, a magazine famous for being the starting point of many popular female stars. Once an avid reader herself, she couldn’t help but be overjoyed at joining the models she’d always admired.

Risa Watanabe (Keyakizaka46) – non-no


Keyakizaka46 is steadily catching up to their older sister group in the modelling scene too. Risa Watanabe joined Non-no magazine’s regular model lineup in 2017, taking her first step into the industry she’d always admired. Being a newcomer, she expressed her excitement while receiving advice from fellow Non-no model and Nogizaka46 senior Nanase Nishino.

Rika Watanabe (Keyakizaka) – Ray

Joining Shiraishi in Ray is Keyakizaka46 member Rika Watanabe, who is fresh on the scene having just started in 2017. At the announcement of her model debut, she was bubbling with the excitement of appearing in a magazine that she had read herself for a long time.

Akari Yoshida (NMB48) – Ray

With over 400,000 followers on her fashion-heavy Instagram account and two beauty photo books to her name, there’s no doubt that NMB48 member Akari Yoshida is a fashionista to be reckoned with. In January she joined Ray magazine as their new exclusive model, increasing her already impressive repertoire as an idol and YouTuber. With this new job, Yoshida unveils an classy and mature side never quite seen before.

Mirei Tanaka (SUPER☆GiRLS) – JELLY

SUPER☆GiRLS member Mirei Tanaka made her debut in 2015 with JELLY magazine, a personal feat that she’d only ever dreamed for. Even before becoming an idol 8 years ago, Tanaka had aspired to be a model. She finally realized her dreams and branched out from the simple cuteness of an idol to show a more mature and sensual side of her.

Yuumi Shida (Yumemiru Adolescence) – Popteen


20-year-old Yuumi Shida is already something of a veteran, having been an exclusive model for magazines since she was 10 years old. She started at the young teens’ magazine Pichi Lemon in 2008, before moving to Popteen magazine in 2013 where she appeared on her first cover within a year. Throughout her modelling career, fans have eagerly watched Shida’s fashion evolve through a variety of styles.

Rikako Sasaki (ANGERME) – Seventeen

With her Japanese-Filipino heritage, Rikako Sasaki is known for her distinctive beauty and diverse expressions. She’s a natural on screen and on camera, so it’s no wonder she stands out both as an idol and a model. Like Shida, she also made her model debut with Pichi Lemon before becoming a Seventeen model in 2016.

Miki Shimomura (Fairies) – Seventeen

Fairies fans are familiar with her sharp dancing skills, but Miki Shimomura also knows how to slay the camera simply by standing still. A Seventeen model since 2013, she continues to show her modeling flair every month while working hard as an idol.

Hitoka Sakai (Tokimeki♡Sendenbu) – Seventeen


2015 was a milestone year for Hitoka Sakai, who debuted both as a member of idol group Tokimeki Sendenbu and an exclusive model after winning the Miss Seventeen Grand Prix. The 16-year-old is also active on social media, where she has over 15,000 followers who regularly praise her style.

Idols are clearly girls of many talents. In an industry where standing out is important, these idols are working hard to appeal to all sorts of fans while still managing to look effortlessly stylish. The stereotype often pigeonholes fans of idols to a male audience, but the presence of female fans is important too. Fashion magazines give idols another channel to reach out to a female audience, serving as style icons and showing the different facets of their personalities and expressions.

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College student in Tokyo and lover of Ghibli and Hello! Project.

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