A Chinese Laundry Foot Model Reveals Her Tricks of the Trade

Two years ago, fate played a role in Chapman University student Sarah Espinoza becoming a foot model. After a colleague scheduled to work the WWD Magic trade show in Las Vegas for Chinese Laundry canceled, 20-year-old Espinoza was asked to showcase the styles of the Los Angeles-based brand at the last minute.

Chinese Laundry Sarah Espinoza
Chinese Laundry model Sarah Espinoza.

Out of the thousands of women on her Chapman University campus, why was Espinoza selected? According to a 2012 Time.com story, the average shoe size of the American woman is between 8.5 and 9, but Espinoza — who stands just over 5 feet — has a rare size 6, the ideal number to fit into sample shoes. Other requirements of the job at Chinese Laundry include a pedicure with only neutral polishes or French tip, fully shaved legs and a tan.

As for the specific duties of a foot model, Espinoza admits the tasks are straightforward: smile, stay alert and slide on multiple shoes at the convention for key stakeholders to admire. As for navigating a convention such as WWD Magic, she added, “Try not to be hungover after the active nightlife — I’m kidding. Always be kind and aware of those around you, because they could be an important connection for the company. Live in the moment and have fun.”

Espinoza has since worked with Chinese Laundry at multiple trade shows in Vegas, with each event attracting about 85,000 attendees. And along the way, she’s learned a lot about what looks good: “Pointed-toe shoes definitely lengthen your legs. Pastels and neutral colors bring out any sign of a tan.”

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