With the past few years bringing an accelerated advancement of men’s fashion and streetwear, many other related industries have consequently seen similar booms. One of those industries is modelling. Today, the way most brands promote their products is through lookbooks, video showcases and other visual forms.
Recently, we spoke with full-time model Emanuel A who is currently based out of Toronto. Emanuel has been modelling for the better part of 7 years now and during that time he has further stamped his mark in the fashion industry as a fashion stylist for Allsaints in the UK and now manages his own brand and blog called Hello Emanuel. In the interview, we gather a deep insight into his experience in the industry accompanied by an exclusive photoshoot!
Q: Tell us about how you got your start modelling back in 2007.
EA: Growing up, modelling was a foreign industry to me. I knew very little about it with exception to America’s Next Top Model. Throughout high school, friends kept bugging me to contact modelling agencies here in Toronto and convinced me that it would be something that I’d be great at. After some contemplating, I bit the bullet and met with a few agencies. In the end signed with Elmer Olsen.
Q: Your early modelling career found you fortunate enough to take you to various exotic locations around the world, such as New York, London, Toronto, Paris and Tokyo. How has this help to progress and drive your passion for the industry?
EA: At a casting in Tokyo for Rei Kawakubo, founder of Commes Des Garcons, I realized then and there that this industry was where I belonged. Her designs were other worldly and so beautiful that it made me appreciate and respect the industry like I never have before. I studied Advertising & Graphic Design in college and at the time thought that it was going to be my career. My three month stay in Tokyo really ignited that flame and passion for the fashion industry. To me, there’s no better form of expression than through fashion.
Q: With all the glamour and glitz that the field of modelling and streetwear fashion offers on the outside looking in, what’s one thing you found tough initially?
EA: Rejection, for sure. At the time I couldn’t fathom as to why I wasn’t to everyones liking. Obviously I wasn’t expecting to land every booking I casted for but sometimes you’d hear things like “oh he’s too skinny”, “his hair’s too blonde”, “he has tattoos”, yadda yadda yadda. As I matured I realized it wasn’t personal but simply that my look wasn’t right for those specific jobs. When you’re in your teens you’re obviously still growing into your own so it’s difficult to be judged superficially but hey that’s pretty much the name of the game when it comes to the industry.
At a casting in Tokyo for Rei Kawakubo, founder of Commes Des Garcons, I realized then and there that this industry was where I belonged. Her designs were other worldly and so beautiful that it made me appreciate and respect the industry like I never have before.
Q: You’re moving back to the UK in October. Why is that?
EA: Although Toronto will always be home, right now I need to get away and surround myself with new adventures and people. Like any city it can get quite stale once you’ve lived in it for a while. I’ve lived in the UK prior and loved every minute of my time there. My chapter abroad isn’t complete and I’ve got some unfinished business there so I’m heading back!
Q: The UK is widely known as a top destination for fashion minds alike, so surely you must be excited. What advantages does this bring to people hoping to breakout in the fashion industry?
EA: I feel that being fearless is key whether it be in the fashion industry or wherever. Taking yourself out of your norm is very healthy. Taking risks and doing things that make you uncomfortable is required. Some people get too comfortable with their surroundings and miss out on opportunities because of that. Moving to London for the first time was definitely a growing experience. My style also evolved while in England. All in all, I think it’s a great city to find yourself and there are vast opportunities when it comes to the fashion industry since it’s always evolving.
Q: For now you’re based in Toronto working on your brand and blog. What about this particular city’s streetwear landscape that is unique to the world?
EA: Toronto’s streetwear is improving year by year. Canadians are breaking out of their shells and experimenting with their style which is amazing to see. We have so much pride for our city as Torontonians and we rep the 6 hard. Icons like Drake and Jusin Bieber have brought worldwide attention to our city and people are starting to take notice of us.
Q: In 2010 you landed an invaluable gig as a stylist for AllSaints Spitalfields that saw you uproot your life and move to the UK. What kind of lessons about the industry did this experience teach you that helped you progress as a fashion mind?
EA: My time at Allsaints as a stylist was an amazing experience because it allowed me to understand and aid people with their personal style. It’s very easy to follow trends and dress someone with your style in mind, but understanding an individual’s fashion identity and making sure they suit the garment is much more difficult. My position also taught me patience, which when I was younger I had very little of.
Q: What brand did you have the most memorable experience working with and what was it?
EA: Working with Puma in Japan was an experience that I’ll never forget! For one, the casting was absolutely ridiculous! It was held at Toranomon Hills, the second tallest skyscraper in Tokyo on the 52nd floor. The views from the top were incredible and in that moment I felt so privileged and proud to be where I was. At the casting I remember them asking us to try and jump our highest. I guess I jumped pretty high because they booked me for the campaign. Puma’s Urban Mobility Campaign was shot one hour outside of the city in and in an abandoned underground factory which was pretty awesome. Seeing my face in windows and around the Puma stores a month later was a surreal and amazing experience.
Q: Emanuel’s three essentials?
EA: Damn. Only 3? You honestly can’t go wrong with a good leather biker jacket. It’s been a classic staple in my wardrobe for a couple of years now and I love how easily it can transition between seasons. A pair of comfortable, yet stylish kicks. I love wearing sneakers with everything. I’m always running from one meeting to the next so comfort is key. I’m fortunate to be working in the domain I work in now because I’m honestly able to pair a dope pair of sneakers with a smart suit and still be looked as being put together. This summer my go-to pair are my all white Nike woven innevas. Lastly, a travel-sized bottle of hair spray I guess! I’m really OCD when it comes to my hair, I always want it to look right so hair spray keeps my hair on point. The one I’m using right now is L’Oreal’s Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold – Unscented though. Unless you’re into smelling like a grandmother, then cop the original!
Although I have all these ambitions I also enjoy not knowing what the future holds. I thrive off the unknown so that’s why I have an endless list of things I’d like to accomplish.
Q: Your go-to designer?
EA: I don’t really have one main go-to designer. I dress depending on my mood and like way too many designers to choose one. If I had to choose however I’d pick Alexander Wang just because his designs are so effortless and easy to wear. I live in his tees.
Q: Where do you envision your blog and brand being in 5 years time? 10 years? What’s the ultimate goal?
EA: In 5 years time I want to see my blog and brand on an international platform. Right now I’m based in Toronto so my niche is quite limited. By moving to London I’m already taking steps in the right direction. I want to travel more with the blog and build my repertoire with each location i visit. I also want to collaborate with designers and create capsule collections. 10 years is hard to say because it’s so far in the future, therefore I’ll stick to 5 years at a time haha. The ultimate goal is to never stop dreaming BIG. I’ve accomplished so much already in my life that I’ve dreamt of achieving. If you envision your life a certain way and place all your energy towards those ambitions you will obtain it, no doubt. On the other hand I also enjoy not knowing what the future has in store. I thrive off the unknown so that’s why I have an endless list of goals I’ve yet to accomplish – it’s just a matter of seeing which one happens first!