The overlooked male model

Amidst the jet-setting, Chanel-wearing, D&G-worshipping glamorous female model, there is the phenomenon of the male model (no, really!)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you’d know that the appreciation of the men in the modelling world has become increasing more popular. They have rocketed in the modern years as the demand for those certain types of men has been somewhat of a trend.

But making it out as a model isn’t always what it seems to be.

The woman have it easy. If you look “good enough”, you will be passed around to work with everyone. Take Cara Delevingne for example, she has worked for them all: Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Victoria’s Secret, Burberry, DKNY. She really has made it, the one that every girl dreams to be.

But for a guy, there isn’t any significant male model that is setting the mark for them all. We’ve got the likes of David Beckham and James Franco but they have come from a different career and do a bit of modelling on the side. Does this mean that male models can’t have a sole career as being a model or is that just the way it’s happened?

By comparing the lives of the males and the females, I aim to get to the bottom of the issue and see if there really is nothing that can be done to ignite the males modelling career.

Harvey Alexander, a young male model of AMCK Models, has spoken about his experience as making it in the modelling realm. He has only been modelling for 8 months but seems to have made his mark on the casters that are able to pick him out from the crowd. Since his debut for Prada and Kenzo last year, he has been jetting off to New York with his connections to New York Model Management and establishing himself with the big guys.

Everyone is waiting for that big break. You’ve just gotta have a lot of patience. Waiting! Waiting! Waiting!”

He explains how, most of the time, you’re waiting just to get one email from your agent. But when that all important email comes, you can begin to get excited. An email is like an invitation for these guys.

Harvey is studying English Literature at Kings College London and he admits that fitting the modelling around studies is sometimes quite difficult. An email could come in on a Friday and expect you to travel on the Saturday. Exciting but pressurising. The ability to leave everything at the drop of a hat seems to be a skill when it comes to this.

I don’t have a job because of my student loan, but I know many guys that have to work to stabilise themselves. You can’t rely on the modelling alone”

For many people, it seems that modelling has to be some sort of hobby when starting out. Making it big doesn’t happen overnight and waiting for that one recommendation from a certain influential person is enough to set the ball rolling. Being spotted and scouted gives the potential of being mentioned to someone else, something that previously mentioned “Queen of the model world” Cara has been involved in.

It seems strange to think that men have the same restrictions within modelling too. Like the women, they are expected to look a certain way for a certain role. Whether it’s an underwear shoot for muscular, buff gentleman or a fashion, catwalk looking for quirky looking guys to parade the collection, then there is a check-list of features that need to be apparent. A strict regime to look good for these roles is essential for the guys as they want to fit the bill for the top shows that they dream of working for.

Walking in one of the Fashion Week’s around the world is an excellent way to get spotted as it is watched from all around the world. This is exactly what Harvey did, he walked for Prada in Milan and this set off the fireworks for the rest. He received countless emails requesting him for shoots and he has been inundated with interest ever since.

The males “not-so glamorous” lifestyle is different from the women’s. There is a lot more pressure for women to get that perfect job that can be enough to trigger a surge of activity.

The women are also genuinely thought to get more money from working as a model. They are able to create their career as a model and have this as their main income. Unlike the men, who are expected to get a job outside of modelling to finance themselves and keep waiting for that big break.

After speaking to a designer who had paraded one of their collections in London Collections:Men, this is what they had to say about the male models:

I just choose the ones that look the best for the brand, but I do think that the selection process seems quite harsh!”

Choosing from the mass amount of men for the job is a gruelling procedure, having to let people down and simply wish them the best in their search.

Obviously being based all about the men, it’s a great opportunity for the models to try and get that little opportunity to be featured in one of the collections. There are many options that could be available and surely one that appeals to every kind of guy looking to get that opening.

Is modelling gay?”

That is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to the men’s aspect of modelling. The modern ignorance that creates the idea of homosexuality in modelling has become a question that can’t quite be agreed. It wasn’t until the 80’s that men were photographed topless in fashion magazines, which struck the change between the prejudice and homophobia that was apparent before these times. People assume that working within fashion is a “gay” thing to work in, but modelling is a completely different area. A masculine man could be needed to work half-naked modelling the newest range of Calvin Klein underwear, having to be masculine and sexy to suit the brand. This isn’t gay, this is just a job. The only word that comes to mind is jealousy. Seeing a guy better looking than yourself isn’t exactly something that boosts your self-esteem but calling it “gay” won’t make it any better either. If you see David Beckham half-naked, and admit, who hasn’t, you wouldn’t say “gay” because you know he has a wife and kids – so it shouldn’t be different for any other models. The preconception of their sexuality shouldn’t be a problem, the reason is to probably sell a product.

I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing a guy in a sleek tailored suit screams masculinity.

I think the issue of this is androgyny. Having a guy that has female features automatically sparks a gay, feminine vibe but that is sometimes the look that people are interested in.

There is nothing of this type of issue when it comes to women’s modelling. They are just seen as a perfect role model for girls around the world. Successful, good-looking and aspirational is something that mothers want all of their children to grow up to be. Is modelling an approved career for the girls too though? Busy lifestyle, parading half-naked and a strict health regime seems quite tough just for a job.

This matter doesn’t seem to be the same for the men. They have a more relaxed lifestyle that allows them to be more laid-back in their approach to their job. Most are willing to wait for the right time and being in the background whilst they wait.

The “option system” is something of a blurred area to an inexperienced one like myself. It’s quite straight forward actually and quite polite with the selection process that could be brutal. A model will be contacted for a casting, attend the casting and given the idea of being an option. If you are selected as an option, the client will then decide whether to book you or drop you. On the other hand, if you’re not selected as an option then you’d just wait for the next possible option to come around.

This might seem like it’s dumbing down the process, but hearing a straight up “no” from someone can be heartbreaking, but hearing an option 3 doesn’t hit as hard. Getting up and moving on has to be something of second nature for these guys. You can get knocked down so hard and want to give up, but pushing yourself to persevere could bring that all important number 1 option.

The woman’s selection process has the idea of being a callous one, being as mean as just a “yes” or a “no”. Their competition is much more pressurised as the demand for women models is that much higher than the men.

Ever since the first men appeared in Fashion Weeks around the world, it has shown the many different lifestyles of men and their ways of creating a life for themselves. From the top models that walk for top brands in the catwalks to the smaller names that walk for the similarly small designers appearing in small collection shows such as Fashion Scout. With the modernisation of fashion and modelling it is becoming easier to be scouted and be noticed. (Harvey was spotted whilst in Oxford Street, it’s as easy as that!)

With successes such as International Men’s Day (19th Nov), men have now established their mark in the modelling world and can begin to celebrate their status. It is a day to celebrate heir achievements and contributions, so no reason to feel better about the availability of male models and their achievements within the fashion world.

Overall, the attitude of a male model is more laid back and relaxed than the women’s, which leads to the perception of the “not-so glamorous” life. That doesn’t mean that it’s a less serious field, because it isn’t. The men take it just as serious as the women but that are more willing to be patient and wait for the special big break. There’s plenty of advice to be taken for the upcoming, young male models trying to make big – be positive, go for every little job, it could lead to anything and be patient – there is something out there for everyone. 

You are ridiculously good looking. You should do it professionally.
You are ridiculously good looking. You should do it professionally.

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