Tuesday, July 15, 2008

[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Trailblazer for foreign models

I'm laying low these days with blogging because, as I've written, it's just time to spruce up my personal life and focus on some other things.

However, I have been plugging away at getting interviews for my Korea Herald column. I've got a few interesting people lined up to write about. I've also been working behind the scenes with the Look to the Stars website that I write for. With that, I'm helping them maintain their MySpace and ThinkMTV pages.

I estimate I'll get back to blogging in earnest in a few weeks.

Here is my interview with Andrew Gordon. He's an American model who lives here in Seoul.

[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Trailblazer for foreign models

Andrew Gordon is an American model from New York who is quite successful in the fashion industry here in Seoul. He speaks near-fluent Korean - not an oddity in itself - but many models here tend to have short stays.

A few foreign models are flown in for a few weeks at a time. For example, Elyse Sewell of America's Next Top Model was here for a few weeks, but left in May to work in China. You just don't see many foreign models that make Korea their home - let alone take a deep interest in the culture or language like Gordon has.

Two years ago, Gordon moved to Gimhae, near the city of Busan, and stayed there for around a year. He moved to Busan, then eventually found his way to Seoul.

He explained that it was friendships made in high school that gave him an interest in Korean culture and language. "I went to a private high school and there were a lot of Korean people there. And so I just became friends with them and, through that ... I developed an interest in Korea."

Because of his interest, he came here to study the language. "I graduated very early and came to Korea. I was planning on only staying here for vacation, and it ended up being a life choice, so I live in Korea now."

He began his modeling career in the United States. "I did a little bit of modeling in the United States for American Apparel. And then came to Korea right after that. I didn't really do anything right off the bat ... I was going back and forth to Japan (to model). I actually debuted in Tokyo Collection ... and that was my (runway) debut."

A typical day for a model in Korea is that there pretty much isn't one. "There is really no typical day here, because everyone is busy and does their own thing. But I would say a normal day with a good amount of work would be starting with a meeting with someone, like an editor or a designer. If those people like you, then you continue on and talk about money. Then, usually, you'll go into a fitting and schedule the day - if it's a show or a shoot. "

Andrew Gordon, American model in Seoul



When asked to describe both the good and bad about working as a model in Korea, Gordon is honest but tactful. "(Korea) is a small country and I understand that, but things like money and pay are very low and sometimes none. I think that designers separate themselves from the models. There are so many models in Korea, so everyone wants to be a model. It's kind of hard for people who really have the potential to do well to be successful." When it comes to the positives, "Being foreign (helps); there aren't a lot of foreign models in Korea. Also, being young is an advantage because I'm younger than a lot of foreign models here. The language is definitely a plus. If I didn't speak Korean, I would not be a freelancing model. It helps with issues like pay."

With his recent assignments, Gordon has had a couple of notable successes. In May 2008, he was featured in a solo 12-page spread in Korean GQ. That was a first for a foreign model. "To be alone for a 12-page spread is a big, big accomplishment, especially for a foreign model."

He is the model for this summer's Hugo Boss campaign that will be seen in Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States.

Having worked with a big fashion house like Hugo Boss opens many doors. "The Boss campaign has gotten me a lot of calls from other countries and ... having something like Hugo Boss in my profile allows me to be viewed on a high-fashion level because Boss is such a fashion icon."

Being a model who has been able to adapt and live in a foreign culture outside of traditional fashion hubs like Paris, Hong Kong or Milan works in his favor when it comes to expanding his profile in other markets.

Here is an Adobe Acrobat, .pdf, version of the interview:

Read this document on Scribd: kh07162008


Other links: A Fashionable Day

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