Modelling is not a job you apply for (apart from in the case of David Gandy, who applied for and won a competition on ITV’s This Morning nearly two decades ago). So how do you go about making it your career?
“It’s less about looks now and more about how that individual is in themselves, and how that shows in their face,” says Alice Grindley, a model booker at London-based agency Nevs. “Social media has helped build this new emphasis on personality, together with the growing number of smaller menswear brands that are more interested in a creative look – in having the right face for them rather than strict model measurements. The fact is that there are so many male models now who could all, more or less, do the same job that clients are increasingly looking for difference.”
Some agencies hold open days, during which anyone can show up, while others take their chances outside of these hours. “It can work,” says Michael Baker, head of male models at agency Storm. “We had one boy [male models are typically referred to as ‘boys’, regardless of their age] who walked into our office one day and, although he was only 16 so had a lot of development to go through, we signed him on the spot. But that doesn’t happen often.”
Instead, the vast majority of models are scouted: approached by a representative of an agency, or a more experienced model. And these scouts look everywhere: from music festivals to shopping centres to Instagram.
“Social media is a huge shop window for models now, and I’ve personally scouted a few guys that are doing really well,” says Cheshire. “A lot of people are spotted in this way now, so if you’re on the younger side, consider this as a way to boost your promise.”
Though it’s not impossible, few are truly plucked from obscurity to hit the big time. “It’s the old PR game to talk of models being found on a building site,” adds Britain’s Next Top Model judge Max Rogers. “The number of would-be models waiting on building sites is incredible.”
Due to the Blue Steel image of male modelling, often a scout’s approach is rebuffed. “We’re still up against perceptions,” says Baker. But scouting generally works because it’s the agencies that know what works for the fashion industry at the time. Also because, since most male models start young, they need the agency’s guidance.”