Posted by Jonathan Shia | November 6th, 2019

Meet 16 of this Year’s Breakout Men

2020 is drawing ever nearer and nearer, offering the opportunity to look both forward and back, at the decade that was and the decade to come. In the 2010s, fashion finally began to catch up with its customers, offering a vision of the world as diverse as the real one we live in. The modeling scene has kept up apace, as the industry broadened its horizons and welcomed in new faces from across the world, slowly starting to offer a range of ages, skin tones, and body types to better connect with the consumers who have been asking for decades to see themselves reflected in ads.

Every June, we gather some of the year’s most notable runway breakout stars on the final day of Paris Fashion Week Men’s to create a snapshot of the future faces of the industry, the young men who have shaped the season with the promise of many campaigns and covers to come. Some are already editorial favorites, some have international ads under their belt, and some are fresh off being discovered, but all of them offer a look at where we are today and where we are going.

Photography by Thomas Goldblum for
Styling by Ferdi Sibbel
Hair by Alexandry Costa
Makeup by William Bartel
Text and casting by Jonathan Shia
Photography assistant: Thomas Clodine-Florent
Styling assistant: Jeffrey Manoir

Coat by Études

Alec Pollentier, 21, Antwerp, Belgium

It was only a matter of weeks after Alec Pollentier was scouted at a music festival in his native Belgium when he found himself about to make his modeling debut backstage at the Spring 2018 Calvin Klein 205W39NYC show—Raf Simons’ second for the label—the biggest of New York Fashion Week. “I didn’t know what to do or how to walk,” he recalls. “I was shaking before the show and at the rehearsal I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on? What do I need to do? Is this going to be good enough for what they expect of me?’” Everything turned out fine in the end and Pollentier was put under an exclusive contract with the designer for half a year, during which he shot a number of campaigns with Willy Vanderperre, Lachlan Bailey, and Daniel Jackson.

Having received the stamp of approval from some of the industry’s biggest names, Pollentier walked his first full season last summer, including in Virgil Abloh’s first Louis Vuitton collection as well as Kim Jones’ initial outing for Dior Men. The wakeboarder (and half of a pair of fraternal twins) joined our Top 50 list earlier this year on the strength of his advertising work—he starred in campaigns for Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein this past Spring—and his runway strength, which has included repeat appearances at Louis Vuitton, Dior Men, Hermès, and Ferragamo, plus turns for Tom Ford and Dries Van Noten. Having left school to focus on modeling, the constant travel has had a side benefit for Pollentier, sparking his passion for photography. “At the time I got scouted, I was thinking about what I could do when I was done with my last year of school and I really didn’t know,” he laughs. “Now I feel like I want to do photography—but not fashion. It’s more architecture and landscapes. Maybe I would do fashion a little bit, I would put someone in front of a building that has a nice architectural shape and then just try to fit it in like that.”

Shirt by Études

Abe Paymans, 17, Esch, the Netherlands

At the young age of 17, Abe Paymans has already been modeling for three years, having been scouted by his mother agent on Instagram at just 14. “I got a message like, ‘Hi, how tall are you and how old are you?’” he recalls with a laugh. His first thought? “What a creep!” But after making his debut at A-Cold-Wall’s Spring 2019 show during London Fashion Week Men’s, Paymans has become both an editorial and runway favorite, with a show CV that includes Prada, Dior Men, Louis Vuitton, Raf Simons, Boss, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Craig Green, Balmain, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin. Asked to name his most memorable experiences, he demurs, “I don’t know, I’ve done so many cool shows.”

Over the past year, Paymans has shot with a range of major photographers, including Brett Lloyd, Thomas Cooksey, Harry Carr, and Blommers & Schumm for L’Uomo Vogue, which makes him especially appreciative of his lenient professors. “They are really cool with it,” he adds. “If I say I need to go somewhere, they say, ‘It’s cool, you can go.’” Currently studying business and economics, he says he still knows little about the fashion industry, but he enjoys the firsthand experience of the work and the time he has to explore his options. As for the future, “I want to start my own company,” he explains. “I don’t for what yet, but I’ll figure it out in the next two years.”

Pants by Louis-Gabriel Nouchi
Mathieu Simoneau, 18, Toronto, Canada

The second time was the charm for Mathieu Simoneau, who was scouted two years ago on the first day of a music festival and then promptly lost the agent’s card. Luckily, he was tracked down again the next day and “then it just went from there,” he recalls. Things moved slowly until last summer, when he made his runway debut as an exclusive at Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein tromping through popcorn in a balaclava and patchwork shirt. “it was crazy, I didn’t really know anything about the industry,” he says. “My mother agent had to teach me how to walk an hour before my casting for the show. I was super nervous and everything just blew my mind.”

After modeling through his final year of high school, Simoneau admits to still being struck at times by the distance between his last job as a busboy and dishwasher at Bub’s Burgers in Carmel, Indiana, and his new life traveling to Paris to walk for Louis Vuitton, Milan for Prada, London for Daniel W Fletcher, and Tokyo for the Valentino show. “A lot of people were really hyped and excited about it, but as time went on, it just became my job,” he laughs about the reactions of his classmates. “It was less ‘Whoa’ and more like, ‘Oh, Mathieu’s doing his thing out there.’ I guess somewhere like Belgium or Paris, it’s normal to have friends who are models, but somewhere like Indiana or Toronto, it’s less common.” It’s taken some time for his friends to appreciate the situation he finds himself in as well. “Even though I’ve told everyone many times, they still ask me, ‘Do you get free clothes? Do you get to keep your look?’” he laughs. “You do get free gifts, free t-shirts, free underwear here or there, but I assumed there must be a way for models to get free clothes, but that doesn’t really happen.”

Jonas Funk, 19, London, England, United Kingdom

Jonas Funk was almost late for his first show before he was almost early. “The night before the show my oblivious brain was like, ‘Oh it’s 10 PM, I’ve definitely not got the show,’ and I fell asleep and then I woke up the next day and there was an email from 1 in the morning like, ‘Congratulations, you’re confirmed!’” he laughs about Margaret Howell’s Spring 2019 show during London Fashion Week. “I was so excited, but also not knowing the call time was three hours before, I was like, ‘What if the show starts in like five minutes, damn!’ So I just ran to Waterloo and made it there. I was so nervous about not actually making the show that when I got in lineup I was more relieved that I was actually there.” After that initial scare, Funk has had plenty of experience in the year since, walking for dozens of shows in his two full seasons, including Coach, Balmain, Off-White, Marni, and Loewe. He points to the Maison Margiela couture show as a special highlight, thanks to its mirrored floor and cartoon walls and soundtrack of “classical dubstep.”

Born in Chicago, Funk moved as a toddler with his family to London, where he grew up skating and playing basketball before being scouted a few years ago at the Reading Festival—what he calls “the most boring answer to that question ever.” He put the idea of modeling to the side until graduating from high school last summer, before kicking off his whirlwind year. He is now fully intent on seeing his new career through, even as he admits to having been “pretty damn clueless” about the fashion industry beforehand. Studies in marketing and psychology are down the line, but for the moment, “I’m just trying to be young and be happy,” he says. “This is such an amazing opportunity. I never thought something like this would ever happen. All of this to me is still a bit like, ‘How am I here and how am I doing this?’”

Coat by Alexander McQueen

Wellington Grant, 19, Beaverton, Oregon, United States

The word Wellington Grant uses the most often to describe his past year is “surreal.” After walking in Raf Simons’ Blade Runner fantasy in July 2017, he returned to his native Oregon and spent nearly eight months trying to figure out his future. “My agencies weren’t talking to me, I wasn’t getting anything, so I was very much wondering if I was going to even do this,” he recalls. “Then in May, I get punched in the face and three days later I book my Coach campaign and the photographer Steven Meisel liked me, so two weeks later I go and do Givenchy, my second campaign, then I got to go to Europe and start my shows off and get everything rolling.” Now he finds himself firmly ensconced in our Top 50, thanks to ads this year for Prada by Willy Vanderperre, Louis Vuitton by Inez and Vinoodh, and Berluti by Alasdair McLellan, and his runway turns for Prada, Dior Men, Louis Vuitton, Boss, Versace, Tom Ford, Valentino, Michael Kors, Dries Van Noten, Berluti, and Craig Green.

Long a creative spirit, Grant says his recent experiences working closely with designers like Simons and Haider Ackermann and stylists like Carlos Nazario for Helmut Lang have inspired him to consider designing creations of his own in the future. “I love clothing, but I don’t necessarily love fashion because it’s not always poured into with art and heart and all that good stuff,” he explains, “but getting to be close to people and seeing the way they seam and create clothes I’ve never seen before, the way that Raf drapes, the intellect and details from the Valentino designer, is so cool because it opens me up. I’ve started to find that clothing is probably where I’m going to end up.” If not for fashion, he says he would probably be studying to become a special needs teacher, because he has a “very soft spot for those kids.” He also continues to express himself in writing, including in poems and short stories that he warns should not be seen as strictly autobiographical. “I enjoy creating this persona. When I write, it’s very fun because people look at it as if it’s me telling them something about myself and I’m not,” he says. “I’m more writing what I aspire to give myself. I’m writing my poetry for me. What’s so fun about it is not everyone’s looped in and it makes it more mysterious, but it does reflect a side of my mind.”

All clothing by Saint Laurent

Tamsir Thiam, 20, Brescia, Italy

Most models have a story of chance and circumstance about how they were discovered, but Tamsir Thiam is the rare one who took the initiative himself, asking a friend how to become a model and deciding to reach out to agencies of his own accord. He made his debut at the Ermenegildo Zegna Fall 2018 show and soon after became a favorite of Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, walking for him a total of five times in a row, including his memorable Resort shows in Arles and Rome, and starring in the brand’s holiday campaign last year. Repeat appearances in Valentino campaigns by Juergen Teller set him up for this year, in which he joined our Hot List and walked for Prada, Boss, Off-White, Coach, Fendi, Tom Ford, and Craig Green.

Now modeling full-time, Thiam has put the rest of his life on hold, including his career as a shooting guard on Brescia’s city basketball team. “Right now, it’s a little bit hard, but when I have time I’ll go and play with friends,” he says. “I’ve been playing basketball my whole life.” He’s also taken time off his university studies in electricity and mechanics, but says he plans to eventually return and then use his newfound expertise to help out in his family’s ancestral homeland of Senegal. “The last time I was there was in 2008,” he explains, “but I always wanted to go back and do something in Senegal.”

Jacket by Dries Van Noten. Shirt by Lacoste. Tie by Gucci.

Yang Hao, 21, Hebei, China

For years growing up, Yang Hao trained in aerobics, until he suffered an injury in high school that put an end to that pursuit. “My teacher said it would be hard to continue and he advised me to be a model,” he recalls. “So I signed up for a modeling contest.” He placed first in the 2017 edition of the China Model Star Contest and signed with his mother agency in Beijing soon after. By the next summer, he was in Europe for fashion week, where he walked for Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen, and Kenzo and closed Raf Simons. So far this year, he’s taken turns on the runway for Louis Vuitton, Boss, Versace, Coach, Tom Ford, Ermenegildo Zegna, Craig Green, and Loewe, but he names his multiple appearances for Prada as his favorites. “I love the details in the clothes and accessories, always nice and classic,” he explains. “More than this, the people are very nice too! They prepared dumplings for me and the other Chinese models, which made us feel at home. I always miss my hometown foods after staying a long time overseas.”

A pair of top-notch campaigns, Prada by Willy Vanderperre and Zara by Craig McDean, helped land Yang on our Hot List earlier this year, and he says he worked hard to prepare for the shoots with the brands, researching their “history, designer, photographer, stylist, casting director, etc.” beforehand. “It’s always good to know more about the brand before working with them!” He hopes to pursue acting in the future, a development that can be credited to something his new career has helped him learn about himself as well. “I was not really confident at the beginning as I knew nothing about it and I did so many castings and got only a few jobs,” he recalls. “But I realized that I am in love with this industry and it made me discover something different about myself. Now I am very excited every time I walk in a show or am in front of a camera.”

Turtleneck by Alexander McQueen

Jeranimo van Russel, 17, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

It only took a few fleeting seconds for Jeranimo van Russel to catch his agent’s eye, making a guest appearance in an Instagram story that disappeared all too quickly. “A friend of mine is a model of my mother agent and he posted a picture of me and him on his Instagram story,” he recalls. “He texted my friend and he was like, ‘Who’s the guy?’ and after 24 hours the thing was gone, so I took pictures with my friend and we sent them to him.” Not long after, van Russel made his modeling debut this past January as a Prada exclusive, exhibiting impressive composure for a brand-new teenager. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” he says. “My agent thought I didn’t like it because I was so chill. I don’t think I need to be nervous about things.”

In the few short months since that prodigious start, van Russel has also walked for Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Boss, Loewe, and Lanvin, as well as appeared in campaigns for Prada by Willy Vanderperre, Lanvin by Glen Luchford, and Sandro by Alasdair McLellan, all achievements which have helped make him a rising star on our Hot List. But little else seems to have changed for him, except perhaps for his response to the ads he encounters regularly. “Before I started modeling, if I saw an advertisement, I was looking at the things, and now I’m looking at the picture and maybe if I know some of the people,” he laughs. “I look at things in a different way.”

All clothing by Gucci

Jun Young Hwang, 19, Seoul, South Korea

Jun Young Hwang has had just the kind of year any new model would envy. His first season this January featured highlights including Prada, Valentino, Dries Van Noten, Loewe, and the opening spot at Kris Van Assche’s first show for Berluti, serving to mark the beginning of a new era in a seamed and shaped leather suit, as well as his debut appearance for Ermenegildo Zegna. “I was so nervous!” he recalls. “I will remember every moment for the rest of my life.” He added Louis Vuitton, Craig Green, Lanvin, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin to his runway list in June.

Having just graduated from high school this summer, Hwang, a soccer fanatic, says he imagines doing something with sports in the future, but for now his attention is firmly on modeling. Earlier this spring he appeared in a campaign for Prada Linea Rossa, which he followed up as part of the cast of rockabillies in Craig McDean’s Zara ads for Fall. “I was honored to be shot by Craig McDean,” he says. “One of my dreams came true and everyone was so nice on set. It was one of my first worldwide campaigns and it’s quite impressive to see yourself in every store!”

Jacket by Kenzo. Turtleneck by Saint Laurent.

Serigne Lam, 21, Dakar, Senegal

One might say that Serigne Lam became a model thanks to popular opinion. After moving to New York from Dakar two years ago to join his father, he found himself being asked regularly whether he was a model. “People always stopped me on the street and on the subway to ask me about modeling, so that was so annoying, but I said, ‘Why do people always ask me this?’” he laughs. “I didn’t know about modeling and if it was going to work for me but in the end I was getting tired of it and I said I have to do it because people think I look like a model. One day I met my mother agent and he was asking me and I said, ‘This time I’m not going to miss it so I have to try and see.’” Soon after, he found himself walking Prada as an exclusive this past January.

The rest of this year has seen Lam walking for Valentino, Gucci, Boss, Coach, and Balmain, and closing Dior Men, while his campaigns for Dior Men by Steven Meisel, Berluti, and Y-3, have helped him move quickly onto our Hot List. Now studying engineering and mechanics in college, he says he still maintains his lifelong dreams of becoming a soccer player, even though he is firmly dedicated to the fashion industry for now, having recently launched his own clothing line SBYL, starting with a signature sweatshirt with the colors of the Senegalese flag. It’s another way for him to stay true to himself, which he credits for helping him maintain his composure even in the highest-pressure situations. “My first show, I was exclusive for Prada, and it was a big deal, but if you know yourself, everything’s going to be fine,” he offers. “I was a little bit nervous, but I was happy to do it because I know myself and I’m always comfortable with myself. I was so happy and excited to do it.”

Sweater by Junya Watanabe

Tae Min Park, 25, Busan, South Korea

Chances are good that no other new model had a summer of 2018 like Tae Min Park. After being introduced to his agency by his friend, the designer Youngmi Woo, he made his runway debut in Europe at Prada in Milan, then appeared in Kim Jones’ first show for Dior Men in Paris, and then walked for Raf Simons at Calvin Klein 205W39NYC in New York—as an exclusive all three times. “Everything seems to me like a dream and I am still dreaming,” he describes of those hectic three months. “I will remember all of these special things forever.” Advertisements for Prada by Willy Vanderperre—which felt like “a super amazing gift” since the shoot took place on his birthday—Dior Men by Steven Meisel and Isabel Marant by Juergen Teller soon followed, along with shoots with Brett Lloyd for Vogue Hommes and Paolo Roversi for L’Uomo Vogue.

Now firmly on our Hot List, Park recalls being interested in fashion since he was child, paging through magazines and watching clips of runway shows on YouTube. After his compulsory military service, he was working at a shipyard before he made the drastic switch to modeling. Even today, after runway turns for Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Valentino, Givenchy, Coach, Alexander McQueen, Versace, Craig Green, and Loewe this year, he still remembers the small kindnesses that have helped him adjust to his new life. “Prada was my first show in Europe and I was really worried,” he explains. “I remember that I felt alone and nervous. After the show, it was an unforgettable memory when Olivier Rizzo gave me a hug.”

Coat by Issey Miyake

Xu Meen, Incheon, South Korea

It’s no exaggeration to say that Xu Meen has upended the standard protocols of the fashion industry this year, taking the top spot on our runway list after two years of modeling in a realm that is normally obsessed with the newest faces. “I appreciate it all the time, but of all the models, I don’t know who decides who is number one,” he says, laughing with embarrassment at the mention of his ranking. “As a field player, I can see all the models are working hard all the time going to many castings and shows, so a bunch of models are number one for me.” Still, it’s undeniable that he was an almost ubiquitous presence on runways this year, closing Neil Barrett in January and Ermenegildo Zegna in June, opening Givenchy’s Pitti Uomo show, and walking for Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Boss, Versace, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, and Craig Green as well.

After ads by Steven Meisel for Versace and Givenchy last year, Xu Meen joined our Hot List thanks to campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Selfridges, and Reebok by Mario Sorrenti. He was scouted by a number of casting directors a few years ago while visiting a friend in London, where he now lives after having moved from South Korea and giving up his job as a Korean teacher. “I thought it was going to be a scam because I’d never met fashion people before in my life,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what fashion is, what a casting is, what an agency is, but I was like, ‘Ok let me try.’” As a more established model, he says that he is taking things as they come, but always with an eye on the future. “It’s kind of a dilemma for me,” he offers. “I spend it one season at a time, but I’m not an underage model, so I have to manage my life as a mature adult, but I’m doing this.” As for what’s next? He laughs, “Let me know, man.”

All clothing by Celine

Matthew Rahill, 19, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

When Matthew Rahill headed down to London in June just days after signing, he was traveling light. “I thought I was just going to be there for a week, so I packed for a week,” he recalls. “Then they go, ‘You’re going to Milan,’ then they go, ‘You’re going to Paris,’ so luckily there was a washing machine in Milan.” Modeling is notorious for its uncertainty, but he had little to complain of as one week stretched to three, after a notable turn at Craig Green led to appearances for Dior Men, Versace, Berluti, and Lanvin, with editorials in British GQ Style and Hero Magazine following this fall. “I can’t even explain it,” he laughs. “It’s been insane.”

A student of fashion business at Birmingham City University, Rahill says he had never considered the possibility of becoming a model even though he had an understanding of the industry already. “I had people say to me like, ‘Oh you’re going to be a model,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’” he says. “Then I got scouted and I was like, ‘What the hell?’ and then obviously this has happened.” Getting an up-close view of designers like Kim Jones at Dior Men and Jun Takahashi at Undercover at work has encouraged him to shift his plans from the business of fashion to the creation of it, and there might be no better education than his new job. “I want to learn how to print my own t-shirts and jumpers and all that”—inspired by Takahashi’s skill with the process—“but then I want to learn how to actually make the clothes,” he says. “I’m going to become a full-time model because I want to be in the fashion industry anyway. That’s what I’m learning at uni, so why not actually live it?”

Jacket by Dries Van Noten. Henley, stylist’s own.

Braien Vaiksaar, 18, Tallinn, Estonia

A debut show season that starts with Valentino and includes turns at Balmain, Berluti, and Paul Smith is no small feat, but it was a buzz cut in the spring that helped launch Braien Vaiksaar to the next level. After gaining notice in a pink smock at Prada’s Spring 2020 show in Shanghai, he went on to a packed season walking for Dior Men, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Fendi, Dries Van Noten, Craig Green, Hermès, and Lanvin this summer. Willy Vanderperre and Alasdair McLellan have shot him multiple times since then, including for the covers of Vogue Hommes and Document Journal, and Steven Meisel photographed him for Dior Men’s Spring 2020 campaign. “I am still learning every day,” he says. “When my agent called me super excited that I would be photographed by Steven Meisel for Dior, I have to admit I didn’t realize how important it was.”

Vaiksaar’s success is all the more impressive given that he effectively scouted secondhand after his agent spotted him in a picture with a friend they had originally been looking to sign. “I got a message from the agent asking if I would be interested in meeting them as well,” he recalls. “I didn’t know anything about modeling and I was pretty sure this was not for me, but here I am today. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and to give it a try.” He looks back to his first show, Valentino, as the experience that gave him the encouragement to pursue his new career wholeheartedly. “I was very happy and excited, but super nervous as well before going on the runway,” he says. “When I finally went out there, I tried to keep my posture and I remember I barely breathed. When I got backstage I felt that something big had happened. Everybody was applauding—of course for the designer and for the show in reality—but I felt that they were applauding for me personally and that I had succeeded. I think I will never forget that feeling of backstage, the energy and all. It made me want to do it over and over again.”

Jacket and pants by Louis-Gabriel Nouchi. Shirt by Études.

Fernando Lindez, 19, Madrid, Spain

Two years ago, Fernando Lindez was in between classes at school when he looked on his phone and saw a direct message from an agency asking him to come in and meet with them. “At the beginning, I thought it was a joke, not a serious thing,” he laughs, “but my sister used to be a model when she was younger and my parents told me to go so I was like, ‘Ok let’s do it.’” A few months later, he made his runway debut during Madrid Fashion Week walking for Palomo Spain, where he admits he was “very nervous” and “didn’t know how to walk.” His breakthrough moment came this January when he opened the Versace show. “I couldn’t believe it because I went to do the looks with them and I was like, ‘Ok I’m here, but I’m not 100% confirmed,’ so I just hoped to get the show,” he recalls. “One day before the show I was having lunch and someone from the Versace team told me, ‘I think you’re opening the show,’ and I was like, ‘Oh shit!’ It was very good news for me. One year ago, I was studying in school and just a normal guy, and now I was going to open the Versace show. The night before, I couldn’t sleep very well, but before the show, I was feeling good.”

Lindez, who gave up golf and MMA to focus on modeling, has had a busy year since, opening DSquared2 and Dunhill and closing Prada’s Shanghai show and Jacquemus’ tenth-anniversary show set among the rolling lavender fields of Provence, and working with top photographers like Willy Vanderperre for i-D and Vogue Hommes, Alasdair McLellan for Love Magazine, and Mert and Marcus for T Magazine. He also walked in Virgil Abloh’s Place Dauphine takeover for Louis Vuitton in June, even though he originally thought he wouldn’t. “I went to the fitting and they were like, ‘See you tomorrow,’ then I asked my agent and she was like, ‘Sadly, Louis Vuitton didn’t confirm,’” he explains. “I was very sad, but the next day in the morning I was at a casting and my agent called me and said, ‘Go very quickly to Louis Vuitton, they forgot to confirm you,’ so all the happiness came in.” His plans are to return to school in the future for acting, and he already has a head start after two seasons as the heartthrob Alejandro on the Spanish version of the hit Norwegian high school series Skam, but for now, “I want to enjoy this time,” he says. “I want to work as much as I can and live in the moment.”

Sweater by Hermès. Pants by Dries Van Noten.

Maikls Mihelsons, 22, Riga, Latvia

It’s hard to think of a more promising start than the one Maikls Mihelsons had, walking as an exclusive for Prada and then Givenchy Haute Couture last summer before landing on the cover of Document Journal lensed by Willy Vanderperre. “Prada and Givenchy are brands known worldwide and I absolutely knew that being booked as an exclusive in the first season was an honor and a great responsibility,” he says. “Everything was planned perfectly. They were very memorable experiences and a wonderful start to a modeling career.” This year, he’s added Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Berluti, Dries Van Noten, Loewe, Raf Simons, and JW Anderson to his runway list, along with Prada’s recent turn in Shanghai and Givenchy’s during Pitti Uomo in Florence, helping him feed what he says is an innate “calling to travel and see places.”

Born in Italy and raised in Latvia, Mihelsons was discovered while playing basketball with friends, a sport he had pursued for 12 years before being sidelined with an injury during high school and shifting his attention to stage construction. Now focusing on modeling, he says he plans to finish his university degree in the future with the hopes of starting his own business. But in the meantime, he is taking the time to appreciate the rarefied situations in which he now finds himself and the company he is keeping. “All the shows that I have been in have brought me amazing experiences,” he says. “I have met many incredible designers and crew members without whom each and every show would not be possible.”

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2 Comments to “Meet 16 of this year’s breakout men”

  1. Nnamdi Oraegbu says:

    I will be on that list before the year runs out! This is my Break Out year.

  2. Assou says:

    what about shixin Huang?