Fashion Industry Can Be Miserable for Male Models

Yes, the fashion industry can be miserable for male models. Like any industry, the fashion industry has its own set of challenges and difficulties. While there are some male models who have successful and enjoyable careers, there are also many who struggle with the demands of the industry.

Ayrton Dequadros by Migle Golubickaite for Fashionably Male

Male models in the fashion industry may face pressure to maintain a certain body type or to constantly change their appearance to fit the latest trend. This pressure can lead to a number of mental and physical health issues, including eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and anxiety.

In addition to these pressures, male models may also face discrimination and mistreatment based on their gender. This can include lower pay, fewer opportunities, and a lack of respect and recognition compared to their female counterparts.

Furthermore, male models may experience sexual harassment and exploitation, which can contribute to a toxic and miserable work environment. We have never talk about it. In 2018, former models Barrett Pall and Kai Braden tell The Advocate exclusively about a different kind of grooming, one they say was meant to confuse these young men as a renowned out photographer took advantage of them sexually.

A separate report by The Boston Globe‘s Spotlight Team revealed harassment allegations against photographers Patrick Demarchelier, David Bellemere, Andre Passos, and Seth Sabal, and stylist Karl Templer.

In recent months, the discussion of consent between photographers and models has intensified. The New York Times reported on the alleged abuse of power by photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, both said to have had a decades-long history of sexual harassment of models. Fifteen male models shared their stories with the newspaper, describing inappropriate sexual behavior. Pressure for unnecessary nudity, they claim, was an open secret within fashion circles. 

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Overall, while the fashion industry can be a rewarding and exciting field for some male models, it can also be a difficult and challenging one that can lead to negative experiences and outcomes.

The case of fashion model Cole Mohr

Back in the day Cole was so interesting to me because he has such a distinctive personality and presence compared to most models (if you see him in interviews). It’s clear watching him speak that he’s extremely smart, funny and perceptive.

If you watch only one video this Fashion Week, let it be this, a mind-boggling video diary shot by male runway model Cole Mohr. Ultimately, says Cole, “This video is about dogs! It’s not about fucking Fashion Week!” Then he blows a raspberry, makes some crazy noises, and takes up residency as the philosopher-poet of our hearts.

He feels more like an actor than a model and I always thought he could probably be successful as one if he got trained and decided to seriously pursue it. I actually think he could be successful at a lot of things if he applied himself.

My sense of him just from interviews (and please correct me if I’m totally off base here) is that he’s not particularly ambitious, self promoting or calculating. I’m not saying he doesn’t have dreams but he strikes me as someone who very much lives in the present and doesn’t really plan ahead. I mean the random tattooing on his body that he allowed people to scribble on like a bathroom wall is reflective of that lack of foresight. Not to shade him for doing that, just saying. He also seems really really ADHD, impulsive and unfocused. I can see him trying something and then giving up or getting distracted.

And I also wonder if he has other vices or HAD other vices that got in the way of him applying himself, because that would fit with his personality type too.

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I saw a brief interview clip with him from a few years ago and he seems very depressed and beaten down compared to his interviews ten years ago. You can also see the exhaustion on his face. I hope he’s okay.

Interview with Cole Mohr, testimonial of our 2017 ADV campaign in New York.

˝It’s unfortunate that when it comes to modeling these kids give up on the path of having a normal life – a lot of them don’t go to college and build skill sets that they could apply to later getting normal jobs. And the industry chews them up and spits them out.˝

So they’re on top of the world thinking they’re the sh*t for a few years, making lots of money, and then when they age out they’re left with no path ahead. (Being an influencer is actually smarter because you have more control over your own career and you don’t have an agent or industry willing to drop you when they get bored with your face.) 

Cole Mohr walking for Eckhaus Latta F/W 2023.2024.
AMI Menswear F/W 2023 Paris
Cole walking for AMI Menswear F/W 2023 Paris.

I think this is especially true for someone like Cole who has a grunge chic appearance and is far from a traditional commercial model. He can’t transition into selling real estate or becoming an influencer. He’s aged out of the e-boy demographic and he’s not like the type of hot cheesy model who can just post shirtless photos of himself and sell sh*t. And even if he had what it takes to be an influencer, I don’t believe it’s in his nature to sell himself in that way. Yes, modeling is selling yourself but I’m not sure if it feels as gross to someone like Cole because there’s at least some artistry involved and you’re relying on other people to sell you – you’re not the one actively promoting yourself. Cole seems like a good person to me – one who has some integrity.

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The fact that he’s male doesn’t help to be honest. Male models make a lot less money and so he probably doesn’t have the savings a successful female model would have after her career ended. And to be totally frank female models when they age out of their careers can always marry a rich guy and secure their futures in that way. That’s harder for guys.

This is all to say I hope he’s okay. And I really think he should consider acting – like enroll in classes at Stella Adler or William Esper if he hasn’t already. Because he has the face and presence for it, and it would allow him to build a career and channel his creativity into something more meaningful than modeling. It’s not too late for him to do this. There’s so much content being made right now and there’s a dearth of interesting, edgy American male actors of any age.

Cole, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re OK.

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