Posted by Jonathan Shia | July 20th, 2016

THE BREAKOUTS

Fashion is, and has always been, an industry in thrall to the new—new looks, new fabrics, new shapes, and, most visibly, new faces. This year has brought a wave of breakout male models who have quickly become runway favorites in their short time in the business, eleven of whom were photographed by Fanny Latour-Lambert in the flea market of the Parisian suburb of Saint-Ouen and dressed by Gaelle Bon in quintessentially French style as Paris Fashion Week came to a close last month. With models hailing from places as varied as Germany, China, Nigeria, and the American Midwest, our roundup of some of this year’s new catwalk stars is larger than ever—although still nowhere near definitive. As the men’s circuit comes to a close after the New York shows ended last week, take a look at eleven of 2016’s new faces we’ll be keeping an eye on in the years to come.

Featured models:

Photography by Fanny Latour-Lambert (Walter Schupfer Management) for Models.com
Styling by Gaelle Bon (AGENCE SAINT GERMAIN)
Grooming by Rimi Ura
Casting by Jonathan Shia and Betty Sze
Text by Jonathan Shia
Stylist’s assistant: Pauline Moreira

Above: Ville wears a Jacket by Sankuanz. Tank top from Hippy Market.

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Victor Ndigwe, 20, Anambra, Nigeria

Ndigwe likes to say that he was discovered “by mistake” with a laugh. “I was at the Elite Model Look casting and my sister was meant to go and I was mostly giving her moral support,” he recalls, “but she couldn’t make it so I was about to leave and they were like, ‘Oh come, we want you.’ Then apparently I won.” He made a few runway appearances in June of last year, but has become a staple in 2016, walking for Versace, Hermès, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, and Dries Van Noten. Ndigwe says his most memorable show experience was at DSquared2 earlier this summer, when he had to walk in six-inch heels. “We had like five minutes of practice between other fittings and castings, and on my first attempt, I fell; second attempt, I fell; third attempt, I fell and hurt my ankle, but I got used to it,” he says. Now living in Lagos, Ndigwe, an Afro pop performer and former student of applied maths, also logged two campaigns earlier this year, for Missoni and Benetton, garnering him a significant amount of notice as his nation’s first male model to make a mark on the international scene. “Some people say I’m the first out of West Africa, but I don’t know how true that is, to be honest,” he demurs. “I see that in the press and I’m like, ‘I never said that, just let it be what it is.’” Still, he admits that it has gotten to the point where sometimes he is overwhelmed with the attention. “Everybody thinks you’re a major superstar if you’ve walked for Balmain,” he laughs. “Everyone’s asking, ‘How did you do it? Can you help us get there too?’ I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m still just a model.’ Everyone’s like, “You’re a supermodel!’ and I’m like, “No, don’t add super to it, it’s just model.’”

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Above: Sweatshirt by The White Briefs. Pants by Vivienne Westwood. Left: Sweatshirt by The White Briefs. Pants by Vivenne Westwood. Shoes by Acne Studios. Right: Cardigan from the Kilo Shop. Pants by Vivienne Westwood.

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Max Fieschi, 19, Nice, France

It was an ordinary summer day last year when Fieschi was stopped while selling ice cream in Nice by a photographer who wanted to do a shoot with him. The results made their way to a few agencies in Paris, and he was quickly signed and booked his first job doing showroom for Yeezy Season Two. “It was impressive because it doesn’t really seem real at first,” he recalls. “It seems more like a dream, meeting all these people and talking with Kanye West, but at the end you realize after a few days that it’s a job like any other.” He made his fashion week debut with Off-White and Valentino on the same day, which offered him two very different glimpses at what the backstage experience can be like. “At Off-White, I didn’t have makeup or my hair done, so it was just me wearing clothes,” he explains, “but at Valentino, we had everything and there were photographers and cameras everywhere.” A student of English, Spanish, and Chinese, Fieschi also studied classic and electric bass at his local conservatory and plans to work in music and theater in the future. But for now the focus is modeling, and after walking for Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Dior Homme, Coach, and Prada this year, he has figured out a pre-show ritual to keep the nerves away. “I always do the same thing even now before a show,” he says. “I just count to three, breathe, and then just focus.”

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Above: Coat by Henrik Vibskov. Left: Shirt by APC. Bandana from the Kilo Shop. Right: Coat by Henrik Vibskov. Tank top from Hippy Market. Pants by Éditions MR. Boots by OAMC.

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Rasmus Holm, 17, Esbjerg, Denmark

Holm had already made it to the semifinals of his native Denmark’s Elite Model Look competition two years ago and quit before being scouted again on Facebook and deciding to go for it earlier this spring. “I thought it would be fun to try out,” he says. “I didn’t expect it to get this far though.” After making his debut in JW Anderson’s show in London, he booked Dior Homme, Louis Vuitton, and Haider Ackermann in Paris. “I was pretty nervous,” he recalls of his first show, “but then when I was done, it felt so wonderful with everyone clapping and saying how great it was.” A recent high school graduate, Holm says he had already planned to take the year off before returning to law school, and is glad modeling has come up to keep him occupied, even if it is still all so new to him that he hasn’t quite had a chance to think about the path ahead. “I’m not really sure yet, but I think I’m going to model full time,” he says, “because otherwise I’d just have a whole year where I’m not going to do anything.”

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Above: Shirt by Acne Studios. Leggings by Isabel Benenato. Boots by Dior Homme. Left: Coat by Éditions MR. Tank top from the Opéra National de Paris. Right: Shirt by Acne Studios. Leggings by Isabel Benenato.

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Oscar Kindelan, 19, Madrid

It took three years after getting discovered while trying to flirt with girls waiting for a Justin Bieber concert for Kindelan to finally break through in the industry, and it all came down to an impulsive decision. “I wasn’t working, so I bleached my hair without telling my bookers, but that was the best thing I ever did,” he recalls. “Prada saw me with brown hair, but I went to the casting with bleached hair and big roots and Olivier Rizzo liked me and now I’m here.” Since walking for Prada last summer, Kindelan has had to begrudgingly give up his hobbies of skating and riding BMX. “I have scars, and imagine if they were recent at the shows, it would be so bad,” he says. “I just sold my bike and I’m so sad about it, but we need to make choices. My friends are working for a few euros an hour so I’m so lucky to be here.” Kindelan returned to his natural brown for 2016, and appeared at Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten, Dior Homme, Fendi, Valentino, Hermès, and Coach this year, as well as Prada two more times. “I prefer my brown hair because it’s my color and I’m doing the shows with my own personality,” he says. “I was tired of being the guy with the bleached hair.”

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Above: T-shirt by Officine Générale. Jeans by Christopher Kane. Hat from the Opéra National de Paris. Left: Sweater and t-shirt by Officine Générale. Jeans by Christopher Kane. Right: Sweater and cap from Hippy Market. Jeans by Christopher Kane.

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Ville Sydfors, 16, Stockholm

Just weeks after signing last September, Sydfors kicked off his career in a momentous way by shooting a feature with Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia as his very first job, but it initially took getting scouted a few times before he decided to give modeling a try. “The first time, I thought maybe they couldn’t see well or something,” he laughs. At his first show for JW Anderson in January, Sydfors closed and opened the finale, which he calls a particularly memorable experience. “I actually wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be,” he recalls. “Opening the finale is the coolest thing you can do because you’re leading everyone and that’s a cool feeling.” He has since repeated on the runway for Prada, Dior Homme, and Y-3, along with walking for Loewe, Craig Green, and Marni and shooting with Craig McDean and Collier Schorr. With two years left in school, Sydfors spends most of his free time playing football and calls Zlatan Ibrahimovic his “biggest idol.” His favorite thing about modeling? The travel. “I’d never seen to Paris, Milan, or London before fashion week, and maybe you don’t see so much when you’re working,” he says, “but you get the feeling.”

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Above: Jacket by Sankuanz. Tank top from Hippy Market. Left: Coat by Sacai. Jeans by Christopher Kane. Right: Tank top from Hippy Market. Jacket (tied around waist) and pants by Sankuanz.

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Maryan Lukaszczyk, 24, Montpellier, France

Lukaszczyk has been a powerful runway presence since he seemingly came out of nowhere in January, but he was actually scouted back in the summer of 2014 by a photographer just before leaving to study for a year in Suzhou in China, where he was working towards a master’s degree in Chinese, English, and business. He has walked for Prada, Dior Homme, Valentino, Burberry, Marni, Bottega Veneta, and Craig Green this year, but he admits to still not being perfectly comfortable with it. “I’m still nervous before going out on the runway,” he laughs, “but then it’s ok.” Lukaszczyk cites the Gucci show in January as a particular favorite. “It was like a flashback in time to the Seventies, the clothes, the atmosphere,” he says. “It was really cool.” A music producer and videographer in his free time, he says his success has been an especial surprise given the little he knew about the industry before starting. “I didn’t know I could be a model. In my head, a model would be tall, tan, heavy, tough, and not like me, white and skinny,” he explains. “I still can’t believe it. It’s so strange.”

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Above: Shirt by Isabel Benenato. Left: Sweater from the Kilo Shop. Shirt by Isabel Benenato. Pants from the Opéra National de Paris. Right: Jacket and pants from the Opéra National de Paris. Shirt by Isabel Benenato.

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Ruben Pol, 19, Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands

Few debuts in recent memory have been as notable as Pol’s, who was discovered on Instagram before opening and closing the Dior Homme show last summer as a worldwide exclusive. “I hadn’t even walked a show before so I didn’t know what it was like. I was really, really, really nervous but I really didn’t know what to expect,” he recalls. “When I entered the catwalk, I was like, ‘Holy shit,’ because I didn’t know how many people would be there and how many cameras. Afterwards I started realizing how big a deal it was when, my next season, everybody recognized me like, ‘Oh you did Dior, oh you did Dior.’” This year, he walked for Dior again, as well as Fendi, Gucci, Burberry, Dries Van Noten, Ferragamo, and Craig Green. Now modeling full time, Pol plays the guitar whenever he has the chance and says he plans to eventually return to school to study industrial design, but he is happy taking advantage of his chance to travel and learn as much as he can about the industry. “I think it’s a great opportunity for everything,” he says. “You travel, you meet a lot of people, you develop yourself, and you see a lot of places and a lot of different kinds of work.”

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Above: Tank top from Hippy Market. Pants by Christopher Kane. Left: Coat by Acne Studios. Tank top from Hippy Market. Pants by Christopher Kane. Right: Shirt and tank top from Hippy Market. Pants by Christopher Kane.

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Simon Julius Jørgensen, 21, Odense, Denmark

After being scouted at a music festival last summer, Jørgensen
made it through the Elite Model Look competition before booking an exclusive with Burberry this past January. “I went to the casting back in December and when I got home the day after, my agent wrote me and was like, ‘You got a Burberry exclusive!’” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Neat! What does that mean?’” By the time the show came around a few weeks later, he had realized exactly what it meant, but still managed to keep a level head. “I was a little nervous, but it actually wasn’t too bad because it was over so fast,” he says. “The last ten minutes up until the show were intense, but then afterwards it was like all the air just went out and everything was calm.” Now taking a break from his physiotherapy studies, Jørgensen walked for Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Fendi, Raf Simons, Dior Homme, and Louis Vuitton this year, and somehow also managed to train for his first marathon, which he ran in April. “It went ok, considering I was meant to be training in January, but that was fashion week, so that didn’t happen,” he says. “I do a lot of walking, but walking is not going to get you through a marathon.”

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Above: Cardigan by The Elder Statesman. T-shirt from Hippy Market. Pants by Filippa K. Left: Cardigan by The Elder Statesman. T-shirt from Hippy Market. Pants by Filippa K. Right: Sweatshirt by Hed Mayner. T-shirt by The White Briefs. Pants by Filippa K.

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Benno Bulang, 18, Dresden, Germany

It was only a few weeks after being discovered at a metro station in Berlin during a May Day celebration last year that Bulang made his first appearance on the runway as an exclusive for Prada, which he says he was completely unprepared for. “I was really excited, but I didn’t know that much about walking in a fashion show,” he recalls. “I didn’t even realize that it was actually a show, then I saw all these people. The climax was when I heard all the photographers clicking. My heart was beating like shit.” Bulang also made appearances at Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, and Dior Homme that season, and quickly became a favorite of Willy Vanderperre. Campaigns for Topman and Lanvin followed, and this year he has walked for nearly every major designer, including Jil Sander, Gucci, Raf Simons, Fendi, and Balenciaga. Still, he takes his success with a grain of salt. “I’m really happy with it, but I don’t start to think that I am something special,” he says. “I just know that I’m really, really thin and that’s what people want, but I’m still a normal guy I think.”

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Above: Jacket and pants by Vivienne Westwood. Turtleneck by Bally. Hat from the Opéra National de Paris. Left: Turtleneck by Neith Nyer. Right: Jacket and pants by Vivienne Westwood. Turtleneck by Bally. Hat from the Opéra National de Paris. Shoes by Acne Studios.

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Elijah van Brocklin, 20, Karlsruhe, Germany

Raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the first half of his life and Germany for the second, van Brocklin was discovered by a former classmate last December while leaving work. “I used to work on construction sites as a mason and I was all dirty on the street and he saw me and stopped me,” he recalls. “Then three weeks later I was in London walking for Alexander McQueen.” In the past six months, van Brocklin has also walked for Louis Vuitton, Dior Homme, Valentino, Fendi, Gucci, Burberry, and Raf Simons, but as a student of stage design (he has deferred his admission to the prestigious Weissensee School of Art in Berlin to model), he says that one which particularly stuck out to him was Roberto Cavalli. “I did a presentation for Roberto Cavalli in Milan and it was just a small box and the wallpaper was aluminum foil in a massive hall,” he recalls. “There was a concert happening in the middle.” A street artist for years, van Brocklin says that his newfound work is also helping him establish a foundation for his future career in the long run. “I’ve been talking to the set designers a lot, checking out what materials they use and techniques to make everything look correct,” he explains. “There’s so much to learn. It’s endless practically, so it has helped a lot.”

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Above: Sweater and shirt by Officine Générale. Shorts by Dries Van Noten. Belt by Bally. Left: Coat by Neith Nyer. Shirt by Officine Générale. Shorts by Dries Van Noten. Belt by Bally. Boots by OAMC. Right: Sweater and shirt by Officine Générale. Shorts by Dries Van Noten. Belt by Bally. Boots by OAMC.

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Wang Chenming, 20, Sichuan, China

A relative veteran in this group, Wang first made his mark by winning a modeling competition in China and then walking in nine shows in a local fashion week. Internationally, he first popped up at Raf Simons’s Fall 2015 show, an experience which was very nearly overwhelming for him. “After the show, I wanted to cry,” he laughs, “but I didn’t.” He has walked for an impressive range of designers since then, from Gucci, Lanvin, and Dries Van Noten to Hermès, Burberry, and DSquared2, but he still calls his most memorable experience opening for Maison Margiela in his first season. Wang happily left school to model in Beijing, where he is now based when he isn’t traveling abroad for his job, which he prizes for the freedom it allows him. “My favorite modeling job is going to Europe for fashion week,” he laughs. “I want to do a thousand shows!”

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Above: Sweater by The Elder Statesman. Pants by Hed Mayner. Hat from Hippy Market. Left: Shirt from the Kilo Shop. Turtleneck by Dries Van Noten. Right: Sweater by The Elder Statesman. Pants by Hed Mayner. Sneakers by Adieu.

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