Style
Where the runway meets the street

Modeling seems to involve endless VIP parties and beach adventures to those who are flipping through glossies and lurking Instagram — but industry insiders know better.

Not only do guys (and girls) need to possess a strong, versatile look, they better also be punctual and professional, know how to work a runway and a photographer’s lens, sell a designer’s vision and have a standout personality, even when they’re drained. In a highly competitive city like NYC, there will always be a new face waiting to replace yours ⎯ the excuse that you just graduated high school and moved from a small town won’t suffice.

Then there are those that climb the ranks swiftly and with ease, due to a lethal concoction of natural charisma and hard work. And let’s be honest — some of these guys are just f***ing cool.

We photographed and got to know five of NYC’s rising stars in the modeling industry during Men’s Fashion Week. Take a look.

Cole James, 21

Instagram: @colejamesfarr

Where do you call home?

Ashtabula, Ohio.

How were you discovered?

I put in a submission to Ford and [they] ended up calling me the same day. A couple weeks after that I flew to NYC to shoot their Vman Contest with Richard Burbridge.

How do you stay in shape?

I bike pretty much everywhere I go, as well as skate.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

I think I’d be trying to become a P.I. or detective, and doing something in the music business. Being able to make music that people love and that you can have a whole crowd going crazy to is the best form of art.

What’s your go-to streetwear?

Homies Wonderland.

What’s starred in your playlist right now?

Playboi Carti, Zapp & Roger, Gucci Mane.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed in the industry?

Another model still drunk from the night before, passed out at a show.

We hear you’re known for your standout off-duty style.

No matter what I’m doing my style always stays the same. I don’t believe in looking a certain way or dressing a certain way for anyone.

Drayton Ratcliff, 21

Instagram: @draytonratcliff

Where do you call home?

Houston, TX.

How were you discovered?

On the street during my first year at NYU. I was running late to class and decided to go a different route. That same day Demanti O’Bryant (head of St. Claire Models) decided to take that same route and ended up running across the street to scout me. He set up a meeting for me with Wilhelmina and they offered me a contract.

How do you stay in shape?

I make an effort to get into the gym every day for about two hours as well as play basketball. I also try to eat healthy whenever possible.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

I would just be a student studying biology.

What’s your go-to streetwear?

KITH.

What’s starred in your playlist right now?

Drake, Lil Yachty.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed in the industry?

All the work that’s involved to successfully pull off a show. It’s amazing to watch the amount of teamwork involved backstage to get everything in place.

How hard do you think it is for white models versus models of color to make it?

I think that it’s much harder for a male or female of color, because the majority of the time fashion brands are looking to book only two or three people of color, meaning that you are competing for two or three spots out of, let’s say, 35 in total.

Dillon Westbrock, 18

Instagram: @dillon_westbrock

Where do you call home?

Central Point, Oregon.

How were you discovered?

When I was younger I thought my mom was famous because she modeled and acted locally with my current mother agency. I wanted to be famous like her. From the time I was nine, I’d go into my mother agency trying to get signed until I finally did in 2015. They sent me to IMTA where I got signed with Storm London, Wilhelmina NY and Next LA.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

Taking classes to get my prerequisites out of the way before university.

What’s your go-to streetwear?

VLONE and Fear of God.

What’s starred in your playlist right now?

Jack Johnson (not the teen heart-throb.)

What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed in the industry?

How short the average fashion model’s career is.

How has your life changed since landing a Calvin Klein campaign?

Currently it hasn’t made any apparent changes. I’m sure there are indirect effects that I’m unaware of. As far as the way people treat me? Nothing has changed because most people outside of fashion are unaware. Maybe that will change when I’m on Calvin’s underwear packages in the next few months.

Alejandro Brown, 19

Instagram: @alejandrogbrown

Where do you call home?

Richmond, VA.

How were you discovered?

I submitted an online application to Ford Models. I was called the next morning and traveled to New York not long after that. I ended up getting signed and came back for New York Fashion Week.

How do you stay in shape?

I don’t really have a set routine. I just try to eat relatively healthy and do some push-ups and sit-ups here and there.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

Hanging out in Richmond, going to school and working some job. Actually, I’d probably still be doing that anyway.

What’s starred in your playlist right now?

Gorillaz, Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine.

We hear you have Broadway and voice-performing aspirations.

I’ve always loved the performing arts. My parents would take me to plays when I was younger and really encouraged a love of theatre. I ended up loving acting on the stage, doing it all through high school and into college. I also grew up loving cartoons.

When I got older, I started thinking about the actors behind the characters and just how talented and versatile they are. Voice actors aren’t bound by their physical bodies. They can play any role they can invent with their voice. That creative freedom really appeals to me, plus doing voices is just damn fun — definitely something I would happily do for the rest of my life.

Marc Luloh, 21

Instagram: @marcluloh

Where do you call home?

Madrid, Spain.

How were you discovered?

One of my best friends worked in A&F in Madrid and a model that worked there told me to try out. He let me go to a test shoot and told me to contact the three best agencies in Spain. UNO replied to me the same day and I got signed.

How do you stay in shape?

I love all types of sports and I never use the subway. I cycle everywhere and try new workouts like “P-90X” or “Insanity e” and I play basketball on street courts.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

Studying tourism and hotel management in Sydney, Australia. I was about to apply to their college but then I started modeling and they asked me if I wanted to go to Milan to try out, so I postponed Sydney and now more than two years has passed.

What’s your go-to streetwear?

DA.INKE.

What’s starred in your playlist right now?

Zatox, Dj Isaac, AZ, Big Pun, Freddie Gibbs, Roc Marciano, Oxia.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed in the industry?

Crazy people (crazy in a good way) that are totally unique with a lot of character and personality that inspire me to continue being whoever I want to be. If you have confidence inside of you, it’s impossible to fail, and I’m lucky I’ve met people with that optimistic energy.

What do you think of the stereotypes about male models, and what’s your take on female versus male experiences in the industry?

There are some common stereotypes for male models, like that we care too much about how we look and that we only workout to get the perfect body. Some models are like that, so this is sometimes true, but everyone is different. I’ve always enjoyed doing sports and feeling healthy and I’ve always liked mixing up clothing. If I like it, I don’t care how it looks to others.

I think women have it a lot harder in the industry because they need to have very specific measurements and fight against their genetics by getting skinnier to fit the clothes. That sometimes makes female models worry too much about what they eat and they’re trained only to lose weight instead of developing their bodies in healthy ways. For male models, we only have to be fit and healthy.

If you’ve just realized your wardrobe needs an update, here are 7 new under-the-radar brands to check out.

  • Words & Photography: Mich Cardin
Words by Contributor
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