Continuing our tribute to upcoming male model megastars, we looked high and low through out the ether for faces with a narrative. You know, faces that went beyond the everyday hum-drum of the coffee-riddled office life stereotype or the sleaze, Wonder Bread and ecstasy supermodel superficiality. It’s rare actually, to find someone with as much knowledge of themselves and their profession at such a young age, who could walk in and follow protocol without batting an eye. Only 21 years-old, Nate Gill of Major Model Management is the latest member of the pantheon of black male model hotness. His posh boy next door façade and street devil-may-care feral kid abandonment has classified him as a leading luminary in fashion. In fashion terminology, if Shawn Sutton is the male equivalent to Chanel Iman, Nate Gill is the male equivalent to Jordon Dunn, all of whom are making gargantuan seismic tremors on the runways. In plain English, he’s slowly becoming a gold lion among house cats.
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. On the go, Gill—the third of our fashion beaus—talks to us between his hectic Fashion Week affairs, flaunting his sultry wit to share his insights, his ladies’ love and the mechanics of the male modeling world.
Giant: What are you known for in the fashion industry?
Nate: That depends on who you ask. Physically, my body (abs mainly, and my lips) but I’d like to think I’m known for my professionalism, hard work, enthusiasm, and positive energy and attitude.
Giant: How were you discovered? What age were you? And how do you think you can get more exposure?
Nate: Initially, I just went in to an open casting call in San Francisco. When I was discovered In New York? 19. Honestly, I think I’m exposing myself in the right ways, the right places. There are some amazing jobs I haven’t been able to take; some I would have really loved, but I’m just happy to be working, and for all the great clients that I have the opportunity to represent.
Giant: What was your first gig?
Nate: Officially? Mervyn’s. I made 500 dollars while I was working at Starbucks, it was like winning the lottery. But my second was Polo, and after that was an editorial for V magazine.
Giant: What is the most attractive trait to have to be a professional model and why is it important?
Nate: You’re going to get a very different answer from me than from most people because I would probably say faith. That’s what gives me the confidence to walk into a room where I literally have no control over the clients’ ideal. I do my part, stay healthy, positive, in shape, but if I’m not what they’re looking for, none of that matters.
Giant: The modeling world is ruled by women mostly. Is it because they purchase more clothes or is it because menswear is so simple?
Nate: Obviously women have more choices. Their fashion is more avant-garde. Women are also the softer sex; they’re naturally aesthetically pleasing. That, mixed with the art [of] women’s fashion affords, of course they purchase more clothes and “rule” the industry. Luckily, I don’t have to compete with them. I’m happy growing as much as I can in the men’s world.
Giant: Some designers have either been rumored to have said or have flat-out 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 fashion house of this caliber?
Nate: Oddly enough, I have worked more than once for both of those names and have loved doing so. The idea of color is changing in the industry, I’m proud to be part of that.
Giant: As the new face of Tommy Hilfiger, how do you feel about the spread of the urban legend?
Nate: I’m not sure what you mean by “urban legend” but I assume that’s about the spread of men of color in the industry, and again I just think its a beautiful thing.
Giant: What do you feel about blacks and other minorities wearing the clothes?
Nate: I think it’s great! I did one show this Fashion Week, where I was the only person of color. That’s an honor to me. But then for Phillip Lim, nearly half the show was minorities and I love seeing that. We’re breaking down old barriers slowly but surely.
Giant: How do you feel about the opinion of male models being accessories in fashion shoots?
Nate: Well, I was what you would call “an accessory” for that V magazine shoot when I first got here, and you know whose accessory I got to be? Beyonce’s. So, being an accessory hasn’t exactly done me any harm.
Giant: What does the fashion world need most?
Nate: Sample sizes that start at 2 or 3, not 00.
Giant: You’ve traveled quite a bit. What places have you been to? Any place in particular that you just adore?
Nate: South Africa is my favorite… I have to make a conscious effort to experience anything real in these places when I have so little time. I’m hoping this holiday season I get to go explore a new country more in depth than I’ve been able to before.
Giant: Have you picked up any skills in your travels?
Nate: I learn a little more patience and a few vocab words with every trip, but that’s really what my Christmas time will be about… Do awesome new friends in crazy cool places count as skills?
Giant: Have you allowed yourself to learn other cultures because of your ability to travel?
Nate: As much as I can. But I’m usually driven from the airport to the hotel to the set and back again without much in between.
Giant: It’s a recession. How are you making money in such a harsh socioeconomic zeitgeist as this?
Nate: I’m not the one who can answer that question, but by the grace of God I’m doing it, so I’m thankful every day.
Giant: Are casting directors and designers a lot harder than they were five years ago because of the recession?
Nate: It’s funny, when I came out here I didn’t know anything about this industry, everyone told me the recession would make it virtually impossible, but I shot Polo underwear the day I got here, and just celebrated my 2-year anniversary in New York during Fashion Week, I’m so blessed to be doing well.
Giant: What is the one thing you would change about the fashion world?
Nate: There are celebrities: actors/musicians, athletes, politicians, and then there are models. I think society gets a chance to see all other celebs lives and lifestyles besides models, I wish people had the opportunity to see the real side. People aspire to look like us but not be like us because no one knows who we are; they just see one or two mean, stoic faces. That’s not who I am as a person, but how could you know that?
Giant: It’s Fashion Week; will you be a part of any shows?
Nate: Yeah… Gilded Age, Phillip Lim, Micheal Bastian, and the notorious Tommy Hilfiger.
Giant: Is there a particular client that you are always happy to work with?
Nate: I like all my jobs, but I favor the freedom of shooting an editorial like GQ.
Giant: Anyone in particular that you are not willing to work with?
Nate: Sure, and we don’t take pictures together.
Giant: Any labels or clients you’d be smitten to work with?
Nate: Totally. Victoria’s Secret, and Sports Illustrated… I’ll be an accessory for them anyday!
Giant: Anything you looking forward to this upcoming week?
Nate: The only thing I look forward to is the reunion! All my friends come into town, its like going back to the first day of school!
Giant: Anything in the future you’re excited about?
Nate: Everything! Its a new adventure each day. But I’m most excited to start broadening the horizons of my career and pursue my passion for acting.