It’s fashion week. So, we decided we’d have our own Fashion Week at the offices. With the fashion world undergoing a black girl power supermodel renaissance anchored by Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Sessilee Lopez, Selita Ebanks and Arlenis Sosa, it seemed less likely of a rise in black male models, let alone models of color. Somewhere, beyond the rainbow, came forth male models who were not your average Herculean beach bum Fabio Lanzoni-type with feathered tresses and a sun-kissed tan. These male models had melanin that soaked up starlight and had an edginess that blended rock n’ roll excess, punk revolt, urban swag and soft-core kink without batting an eye. Among them, Chavis Aaron is just that: A prime example of nu-vogue and urban decay; a photogenic chameleon able to shock and able to entice sex (a fashion favorite).
Talking to several male fashion models of color to discuss the fashion world and its ups and downs, race and culture, we get the skinny on the experience of being diverse in fashion. Recovering from a heavy night of intoxicating birthday debauchery, Aaron is the second of fashion beaus to bluntly tell us what is going on in the world of fashion beyond the runaway and share an insight to what he wants out of life.
Giant: How were you discovered? What age were you? And how do you think you can get more exposure?
Chavis: I started modeling at 7 years-old, but I still feel like I have yet to (with emphasis) truly be “discovered.”
Giant: What was your first gig?
Chavis: My first gig was a local Indiana paper.
Giant: What is the most attractive trait to have to be a professional model and why is it important?
Chavis: There’s no such thing as a trait you must have to model. Models are created based off being different. You have to bring a different look to the table, but a toned body is super important for male models
Giant: The modeling world is ruled by women mostly. Is it because they purchase more clothes or is it because menswear is so simple?
Chavis: I think it’s ruled by women because they are more open to fashion options and combos.
Giant: Other than modeling agencies RED and Benetton, there’s not a lot of diversity. What do you think the fashion world is missing?
Chavis: I think that the fashion world is missing equality between male models and female [models].
Giant: Some designers have stated they don’t design their clothes for black people like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Do they hire black models or have you been approached by a fashion house of this caliber?
Chavis: I have known these designers to choose black models for shows, but I still feel that it’s a “token” black model situation.
Giant: What do you feel about blacks and other minorities wearing the clothes?
Chavis: I think that its their choice to wear [the clothes] or not; I have no problem.
Giant: How do you feel about the opinion of male models being accessories in fashion shoots?
Chavis: I think its def. true that male models are just that, accessories. And [I] think that we have just the same to offer, talent-wise, as any one else.
Giant: What does the fashion world need most?
Chavis: The fashion world needs more of an open mind and ethnic understanding.
Giant: You’ve traveled quite a bit. What places have you been to? Any place in particular that you just adore?
Chavis: I love South Beach! The energy there is amazing. [I am] waiting for London, [that trip is] coming soon.
Giant: Have you picked up any skills in your travels?
Chavis: I have learned patience, organization, dedication, passion, and [a] strong work out habit.
Giant: Have you allowed yourself to learn other cultures because of your ability to travel?
Chavis: Unfortunately, I haven’t left the country yet.
Giant: It’s a recession. How are you making money in such a harsh socioeconomic zeitgeist as this?
Chavis: Yeah, modeling is not always easy. So, I also started two companies: C A Reaction, where we do Branding/Marketing/ Event planning, and also C A Reaction Staffing, where we staff other models for Bartenders/servers for events nationwide.
Giant: Are casting directors and designers a lot harder than they were five years ago because of the recession?
Chavis: Yeah, I think casting [is] a lot harder and [I] also [think] there is a lot more competition with the increase of new models from reality shows and [the] media push to want to become a model [is a] frenzy.
Giant: What is the one thing you would change about the fashion world?
Chavis: That it would be more diverse.
Giant: Its fashion week, will you be a part of any shows?
Chavis: This year, I felt as though I need[ed] a break, and [that I will] come back and hit the industry with a big bang!
Giant: Is there a particular client that you are always happy to work with?
Chavis: I love working with new designers that just have the passion for what they do best—design.
Giant: Anyone in particular that you are not willing to work with?
Chavis: Never; I am an equal opportunity employee! (laughs)
Giant: Any labels or clients you’d be smitten to work with?
Chavis: I would love to be the face for D&G, Dsquared2, and Diesel.
Giant: Anything in the future you’re excited about?
Chavis: I’m excited to shoot a lot of new work including a calendar/website coming soon, so [be on the] look out!