A Fashion Model works exclusively with one agency for a 2-3 year contract. Working with one agency only at a time. Fashion agencies work with less models and therefore give their attention and their focus to a select amount of models.
A Short Model aka a Print Model typically will freelance with a few commercial print modeling agencies or talent agencies. Many print modeling agencies do not work exclusive with their models, they work with many, many models from 30-100s. Working non-exclusive means you are working with that agency but your relationship is not where you can't get work anywhere else. You are free to book work elsewhere as a model. With other agencies and also if you book a job through your own self-promotion.
Exclusive implies that your modeling business: your bookings, castings, modeling related work, only happens with that one agency, from that one agency. The contract could be broken down to certain cities perhaps, but exclusive means you can not have contact with other agencies while working with the agency and that you are exclusive with them and signed an exclusive modeling contract with them, usually for a certain amount of time.
Exclusive implies the agency would invest in the models beyond sending them on castings, such as: housing them, buying portfolios, paying for their photography, and other upfront expenses. This cost can come out of the fashion models paychecks when they are booked for a modeling job.
Ex. if the fashion model books a job in a magazine the agency might order the magazine for her but will deduct this cost from the models check...vs a print model who typically will go to the magazine store and buy the magazine herself, out of pocket...it's not taken out of her check but she still has to buy it to get a copy usually.
It's just a different lifestyle. Print models are more do-it-yourself.
In print modeling the model typically will pay for her own comp cards, marketing materials, portfolio, printing costs. The agencies they work with will use the comp card the model makes. The print modeling agency may suggest certain images be used for the comp card and help the model with deciding on images. Print models that work with mainly one agency or have built a good relationship with booking work with the agency for some time sometimes do make comp cards with the agencies logo that they work with on it, but this isn't usually expected.
In my opinion, from my experience print modeling in NYC, I think it's a good thing to work non-exclusive when you are starting out modeling, we live in a self-starter go-getter world and waiting for the phone to ring isn't my style, it is hard to rely on one print modeling agency to perhaps book you all the work you want to book.
So remember exclusive representation isn't the end all because in print modeling it is typical to work for years with many agencies all at once non-exclusively.
When the shorter models portfolio and experience is established sometimes she might be able to get representation with a more prestige print modeling agency on an exclusive basis or may end up working more closely with one or two agencies in her area, but being non-exclusive doesn't mean you are any worse off.