The average person probably thinks that male models are muscular, tall and attractive. Two of the three descriptions are accurate however today's ideal male model is definitely not muscular. The fashion and modeling industries experienced a drastic shift in demand at some point in the early 2000s. The male models du moment are skinny, lean and even tattooed. Gone are the days of the male models with movie star looks and porn star physiques. The skinny types are giving the beefcake types a run for their money. Models such as Cole Mohr, Josh Beech, Tyler Riggs and more recently Jethro Cave and Ash Stymest are leading quite successful modeling careers thanks to their lean figures. This new silhouette represents the realness movement in the male modeling industry.
Models with god-like physiques were the norm in the modeling industry up until the late 1990s. The faces of brands such as Dolce & Gabanna and Calvin Klein all had chiseled bodies. If you didn't have a 6-pack and great pecks you could forget about modeling all together. However, the consumers and eventually, the fashion world, got disenchanted with this overly masculine image. In the early 2000s, it was time to reinterpret and redefine societies' notions of masculinity. Male models started getting skinnier and skinnier. Some critics even thought that companies were going too far and promoting a stick figure or scarecrow physique. Whatever your opinion may be, the fact of the matter is that the men's fashion world shifted towards a more raw and realistic look. These boys were naturally good-looking and thin, demonstrating that you didn't need to go to the gym to be attractive. Consumers could relate to these models and this partially explains the reason why this trend caught on.
Hedi Slimane the ex-designer of Dior Homme was one of the first to promote the skinny look in men's fashion. He was making slim fitted, tapered clothing and therefore wanted thinner models to suit his aesthetic. He couldn't always find the type of model he was looking for at modeling agencies so he started conducting street castings. Many of the models in his shows and campaigns are boys that he discovered himself during his travels. Its thanks to these street castings that he was able to find real skinny punks to create a new look in the menswear industry. This brought authenticity to the fashion world. Modeling agencies quickly started scouting and signing skinny boys as well as promoting them to their clients. As Guy Trebay explains in The Vanishing Point article he wrote for the New York Times: "Within a couple of seasons, the sleekness of Dior Homme suits made everyone else's designs look boxy and passé, and so designers everywhere started reducing their silhouettes." Hedi Slimane's influence on the male modeling industry continues to this day, even though he has not designed a collection since 2007.
The "it" male models all have a punk and somewhat androgynous look. They embody the energy and rebellion of youth. They all have tattoos on their bodies and Ash Stymest as well as Josh Beech have gauges in their ears. They have an "I don't give a fuck" rock n' roll attitude. This punk rock model look has also spilled over to the womenswear market. Alice Dellal and Tasha Tilberg are both examples of female models that have become well-known for their edgier looks. Alice Dellal sports a partly shaved hairdo and they both have nose piercings and tattoos. This group of models has taken the fashion world by storm and the fashion world can't seem to get enough as they have appeared on countless magazine covers, in campaigns and in editorials.
The raw, skinny and edgy punk rock aesthetic in the modeling industry is yet another manifestation of the realness movement in the creative community. Dirty, slim and rough is in. Clean, muscular and handsome is out. At the moment, consumers don't want to look at advertisements portraying fantasy male models with physiques that are unattainable to most. They want something that is more realistic and that's what these models represent: reality. Although there is a lot of effort put into creating and maintaing this look, the punk/skinny aesthetic gives the consumer the impression that these models are effortlessly living their lives, one day at a time, without a care in the world. It's an alternative to the clean-cut, muscular male model image that was dominant in the past. In an industry that's known for pushing boundaries this change was necessary.