One of the more surreal parts of fashion is its constant state of evolution. Always looking ahead, the lust for progression sewn into the industry is what makes it one of the most unstable, yet exciting jobs you can find. The designers, journalists and models that are top dogs now may not necessarily be in the future, the fashion world is changing and the search for new talent has already begun.
And that's why, when I bumped into him during the one year anniversary party for Off the Hook Digital magazine, I had to introduce myself to the male commercial/editorial model Alexander Fakinos, or Alex F for short. He let me attend a shoot in the drenched with rain, cobblestone streets of London's very own Brick Lane. Assisting the multi-talented photographer James Drew (check out his work here, it's so cool) I managed to witness first-hand Alex's artistic visions and his confidence, knowing exactly what he wants out of his burgeoning portfolio. He was a trooper!
We nestled in the rustic, vintage Cafe 1001 in Shoreditch high street, I had the opportunity to sit down with Alex and get to the core of his passion.
J: Pretty simple, what's your name, how old are you, and where are you from?
A: My full name is Alexander Fakinos, so I'm from Greece you can guess from the name, and I'm 21 years old.
J: So it's Alex F for short? It's a bit of a mouth full...
A: Should I call myself Alexander?
J: I think Alexander sounds a bit edgier.
A: That's good, let's go for Alexander F.
J: This is very broad so brace yourself. Why and how did you start modelling? What brought you into deciding “I'm going to be a model”?
A: I started about 3 years ago when I started uni, and it was something on the side. Because obviously, I was doing an architecture course which was quite intense so I could only do it on the side. Architecture did help me to kind of understand fashion because they're both different kinds of art I guess. And architecture is a lot of hard work and it kind of pushed me to do hard work in modelling as well. So I would always think about the thought behind it, the concept. I didn't realise from the beginning that it's not just about looking good in front of a camera there's a lot more.
J: What most people would assume that all it is a bunch of good looking people staring dramatically away from the camera.
A: Exactly. I'm still new so I'm not saying I know everything, but it's been a huge learning curve for me. I started 3 years ago in Greece. I mean, the market isn’t really as accessible as it is here [London] it isn't as big. And nor was it in Dundee where I was for uni but I got a little bit of a taste for it and I enjoyed it. I got a few jobs there and then I realised that this is quite fun and even though architecture is a great thing for me I'd like to try doing this because I was always the kind of person who needed something logical. Maybe it's because of my star sign I don't know.
J: What's your star sign?
A: Cancer. My parents always pushed me to do architecture, and when my Dad was a civil engineer, that's where that came from. But they always pushed me to get the degree because they knew that first, I wanted to be an actor then I wanted to be a singer and now I want to be a model. I just kind of want to do something big. I haven't done it professionally yet, which is quite scary. But I got my degree so I didn't have my parents on my back any more, and it's fine. I've got something to back myself up on, and modelling is just an unsure industry.
J: It doesn't sound like the most stable of professions, you hear about the high-fashion runways where they will throw you around like a doll forcing you into the clothing in the space of two seconds.
A: I don't mind that. I kind of like fast things, I work better under pressure, but the fact that it's an uncertain industry, it excites me I guess. I'm okay with it being uncertain. So basically to sum up, it's why I enjoy it so much.
J: What was your first 'big break' into modelling? Was there a moment that if you looked back on it showed you “I can be a model. I am a model”?
A: I don't think there was a specific moment, it was more when I realsied that there was a demand for me. I don't know if this comes across as vain or anything, but people would comment on me and say “You've got potential, the kind of look of an editorial model” or something, so I kind of looked into it.
J: Embrace it!
A: And when I started to apply for jobs and apply myself to get a response it kind of made me think ok, maybe this could be something real. Because fame isn’t really, well not fame but that kind of industry seemed quite unreachable, the whole 'fame' kind of thing if that makes sense. The fact that, I'm not talking about being famous, I can work on a large scale of the world. Have a job that is recognised around the whole world.
J: Would you like to fly to Paris and Milan?
A: Oh yeah, I've been to quite a few places. Not too many, I've been to Egypt, Thailand, just different kinds of places.
J: It's good to immerse yourself in other cultures.
A: I think it's because I went to an international school as well, so people of all different cultures like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, anywhere you can imagine. It was an awe for me, it was very interesting to realise how different everything everywhere can be. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I want to see everything before I die.
J: It doesn’t, go for it.
A: So if this jobs get me to travel then I'm well up for that.
J: Would you say it's been quite difficult to get into the modelling industry?
A: Yeah and I don't think I consider, if I was being honest myself, that I'm in 'it' yet. I think I'll realise it when I get signed eventually. But it's been really tough, I don't know how to say this but yesterday I got really upset actually. Not because I keep on getting rejections or anything, but because I feel like I'm doing this on my own, and for the first time I got a bit overwhelmed I guess, not upset. It's just really intense work.
J: It's quite a 'cold' industry.
A: Definitely, it's a lonely industry.
J: You have to be fiercely independent to get anywhere.
A: I think I was quite a loner. I'm okay with being alone, I like being alone sometimes actually. And actually, when I'm surrounded by people when I don't want to be I get really mean. But not on the job!
J: This kind of links into Milan and Paris and what not, but what would you say is your dream modelling job? Like, if you were signed onto a modelling agency and could go anywhere and do anything, you could be shot on any location, for any photographer, what would it be?
A: I guess my dream job would be to work with, no one specific, but just a designer who is really passionate about their clothes because that's what really interests me about modelling because I feel like I'm not the most important person in the industry, between designers and everyone else. But I do think the designer themselves are the most important thing. I kind of feel honoured in a way that I get to showcase that, that I get to convey the artist's vision or whatever.
J: When you wear the clothes you kinda become the art and accentuate it.
A: Definitely, it's to evoke that kind of feeling that the designer wants a person to feel when they wear the clothes.
J: Especially because for runway, it's the first time that anyone, apart from the designer and their team, has seen the clothes.
A: So it's not like I want to work for Gucci or anything, I mean, obviously I wouldn't mind! But, I would just love to work for a designer who's passionate about their work and wants to start something new. I love someone who is ready to stir things up you know. I like going out of the norm and things like that. Stepping outside of their comfort zones, out of the boundaries of society. If they want to put me in high heels then I'm up for that, I really don't mind.
J: So you'd literally wear anything? I don't know if you remember but a couple of years ago this designer (Craig Green) who put the models in the wooden masks for London Collections: Men. Would you wear anything like, crazy or arty?
A: I don't wanna say I'd wear anything, because I have to draw a line somewhere. I guess I wouldn't like to go into erotic fashion, it's not the kind of industry I want to get into. If it's tasteful okay, but I'd like to think that I'd draw the line there. I'm definitely open to new ideas.
J: Okay, I threw this in there because I really wanted to, but long story short I was reading the magazine 'Attitude' and they did an article about how an everyday Joe was thrown into a modelling agency. And there was a consensus there that male models are 'lazier' than female models. That's the stigma, would you say it's true?
A: I would definitely not say it's true. It's definitely an over-generalisation, and I'm the kind of person who does not like stereotypes.
J: It's horrible to be assumed.
A: I mean, David Gandy has just proved that article wrong. It just depends on the person.
J: They said that, a female model would happily spend the whole day in heels running around from shoot to shoot.
A: I'd like to think that a male model can want it as much as a female model, and I'm sure they would work just as hard. And I guess people can kind of see that because the male persona is related to being a bit more relaxed and everything like that. I've met a few models and I'd like to think that me myself, I want this so badly, I would run around in high heels too! We keep coming back to this, I don't wear high heels in my spare time!
J: Whatever you're into on a Friday night.... So when you're not modelling, what are your hobbies?
A: I definitely love to sing, I play the guitar too. I like taking mainstream music and making it into acoustic versions. I just like doing stuff I've never done before, it sounds so clichéd. I don't know, I'm in London and there's so much to do. I've been to the Tate Modern recently, it was mind-blowing. I wonder the streets and that's fine for me. I'm pretty much a big nature boy as well. I grew up on an island basically and all of it is sea and mountains and stuff like that.
J: I guess it's from two-extremes, to come from an island like that to one of the most bustling cities on the planet. Is it quite a change?
A: Yes! It's definitely not what I expected, to be going out all the time, meeting loads of people... and it was the exact opposite. The friend I live with never goes out, so I ended up looking online for these meet up places and I actually typed onto Google 'what can you do in London alone?' But to be fair, I have met lots of nice people.
J: Is that how it's kinda like in modelling? It must be so difficult to actually find where they are.
A: If you want to do it professionally, then an agency is definitely where to go. Because if you're doing it on your own, not only are you being a model, but you’re being your own make-up artist, stylist, everything. If you want to do the job on a bigger scale, you definitely need to work as a team.
J: Would you say social media is integral? When you don't have a modelling agency, does it help in setting up your 'brand'?
A: Yeah, you need to market yourself, you need to get yourself out there. That's what you should be doing anyway, but it's so much harder when you're doing it alone. You've got to start from somewhere... Like this!
J: I'm happy I could help. This is a short and simple question, how would you describe your style?
A: I think it's still developing actually, if I were being honest. What I do is, depending on the day, what the weather is like, my mood on the day or maybe an image I've seen recently, or maybe a magazine I've read recently, and I see something and I kind of try to... explain how I feel.
J: Express yourself?
A: Yeah, it's like an abstract way of thinking. I can't really explain it.
J: I understand, I'm the same. This links, if you have any, who are your style icons? A particular person, or a go-to brand? Like in your shoot today had everything H&M.
A: Everything H&M? That's because it's affordable fashion. I don't think I do, I don't really tend to look at models for their styling, because I'm pretty sure they're styled by someone else. I think, even though it's a woman, Lana Del Ray is pretty amazing. She's new, she's kind of fresh with the whole overlook of styling. Lady Gaga's obviously pretty cool, but I don't think I could pull it off. I like it when someone is daring, because that's what makes the whole industry develop to the next stage. Because now you get men wearing skirts and make up and it's only because someone started doing it that it's the norm today.
J: There's always that battle between just mindlessly follow trend, but in effect, neglect having your own style. Would you say that you follow trends, or do you take into account or not care at all?
A: Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and I put my faith in a magazine and say “Oh, he's dressed like that so I'm gonna do the same.” because I can't be bothered. Sometimes I wear the same clothes three days in a row... just because. I'm sure we've all done it? Once? No? Well, anyone who is willing to push the boundaries of fashion is my style icon.
J: Very broad, if you weren't a model, what would you be? It's one of those, 'debate my whole existence' kind of questions.
A: If I wasn't a model, I'm not going to say a specific job, but I'd want to be a role model. I'd want to provide a good example for someone to look up to. I remember growing up and always looking up to people, and always thinking “Wow, I want to be like that.” and that would push me and help me to get better and work harder and I'd like to think that I got here today because of all those different people.
J: So, you'd like to be one of those people?
A: Even if it doesn’t mean a model, or me as an architect people looking up to me, me as a teacher people looking up to me, anything. If I could do that in the future, that would be amazing, because I get a lot of inspiration from people, I'm just a sensitive person sometimes, and I get inspired from speeches. You know when you hear something and it kind of makes you tingle like, you're almost about to cry. If I could do that for someone that would be awesome.