Our July Cover star is the legendary GARRETT NEFF who met up with our team for a shoot in Sydney by MMSCENE regular PAT SUPSIRI. Garrett, also took time for an exclusive interview with our Deputy Editor ANA MARKOVIC to talk about the start of his career, international campaigns and starting his own fashion empire.
Scroll down for our exclusive interview and more of our cover story.
You were first approached about modeling career while you were still in college, how did u decide to pursue it?
The timing couldn’t have been better. I was nearing graduation with a degree in Business but not yet sure what exactly I wanted to do. It’s a long shot to make a career out of modeling, but things happened so fast, signing with an agency that I didn’t even have time to look back.
Was it hard finding balance between your career and college, and did u ever consider quitting one to pursue other?
I always knew I would finish school before fully embarking on whatever career I would pursue. That last year of school was definitely a challenge though, particularly with all of the travel required.
Your career lifted off very fast, was it overwhelming for a newcomer to work with fashion legends such as Karl Lagerfeld and Bruce Weber?
I wouldn’t say that it was overwhelming necessarily, it was just fast and fun and so different from what I had been doing. It was really eye opening. I loved every second of it and still do, even when there’s a lot of travel.
You landed Calvin Klein contract soon after, you were face of their fragrance, jeans and underwear. Tell us how your collaboration with Calvin Klein started.
It wasn’t glamorous at first. I went in for a go see to meet the people over there. Mark Foltz is the first line of defense for the Calvin Klein people and has been for over 12 years now. He let me sneak by for some small showroom jobs for the main label with Kevin Carrigan, then some unrecognizable underwear packaging. Then I met Fabien Baron at their ad agency while they were looking for a model for a new fragrance which ended up being called Calvin Klein Man. Then came the jeans ad with David Sims, then the underwear ad with Bruce Weber. I shot with them for over 10 years.
As model, you worked with so many great photographers and designers, what are the projects you are most proud of?
I really love the editorials we’ve done more than anything else. There’s always so much more room for self expression. It’s a lot less product focused and more art-centric. Anything with Bruce, Steven Meisel, Karl… I mean, how could I choose? I’m incredibly proud too of the campaigns we’ve put together for Katama. We shoot with the amazing Arnaldo Anaya, and that work has been so important in establishing the look of the brand.
If you could go back, would you make some of decisions about your career differently? Is there any projects you wish you weren’t part of?
Not really. It’s never fun to have to choose one job over another, but what a great problem to have. So no, I don’t have any regrets.
What are the highs and lows of being supermodel?
The highs are booking the jobs you’ve dreamed of, and working with the best people in the greatest locations around the world. The lows are being so close to getting the jobs and those big editorials or pay days and having them choose somebody else. I also really hate having to cancel plans with loved ones in order to work.
How do you stay fit? What is your exercise regiment?
I try to eat healthy. I mix up my workouts so I don’t get bored. Gym classes, trainers, running, swimming, putting together my own workout plans. Spin classes. Yoga. If it’s a way for me to work up a sweat, I’m there.
What do you think is the most important trait for longevity of a model’s career?
There are the obvious things, like being on time and prepared and taking care of your body. But I think it’s so important to also love what you do and to take time to appreciate the art of it. Spend time getting to know the people you work with and make lasting friendships in the industry—share in each others’ work and enthusiasm.
The modelling industry has changed so much in the past decade. Do you think social media changed it for the better or for the worse?
I think social media has allowed more access into the private lives of models and celebrities. I think it has its benefits. It definitely helps me communicate with people who might be interested in following my movements, and vice versa. It gives us a chance to be heard and voice our opinions and demystify everything. The amount of content can be overwhelming, but that’s a small gripe.
You worked with the best designers, how much they influenced your own vision of fashion?
I have learned so much from the talented people I’ve worked with over the years. From patience and point of view, to technical things like data management. I knew from the beginning of my career that these were unique opportunities, and I made sure to absorb everything.
Tell us about KATAMA. How did you decide to start your own line?
Katama started because I had a story to tell that wasn’t being told. The brand is a return to nature and simplicity and maintaining a realistic view of what’s important in life. I just found so many lifestyle brands to be planting false aspirations of glitz and glamour and money. I wanted something modern and adventurous but also, in its way, classic.
What were the main challenges in starting up KATAMA?
Starting a brand is very time consuming and requires an endless amount of adjustments and communication. Learning how to do everything that needs to be done and then putting a team together that you trust and respect, and being able to delegate the work to accomplish your goals, it is all a huge challenge and takes lots of time.
And what was the most rewarding?
There’s no better feeling than customers responding to the brand and feeling connected to the lifestyle while also coming back to buy more product. The media response has also been phenomenal, particularly as it comes from places I’ve long respected. Also, I’ve had the opportunity to give back to all of the people who I’ve been working with over the years by hiring them to help us tell the Katama story. That has felt particularly good.
When it comes to Katama, what are your main sources of inspiration? Tell us about your creative process.
I look to what is natural and authentic. The memories of active childhood summers in New England started it all. But each season we are expanding on ideas, big and small. I often take color and setting cues from my favorite artists like Andrew Wyeth or Bruce Weber. Vintage military and athletic gear is often so functional and a great starting point for any new style we introduce, while mixing and matching it with elements I dream up at the oddest times.
It’s really never ending when it comes to inspiration. I keep a camera with me at all times, and capture everything I can. Then I just sift through hundreds of ideas as I start to put together the next collection or project.
What was the inspiration for your Spring Summer 2017 collection? Do you have a favorite piece?
Andrew Wyeth inspired SS17: His colors, the Brandywine River valley where we both grew up, New England, natural settings and unbleached colors.
If you could chose any designer to collaborate with you on Katama designs who would it be?
You’ll have to wait and see. Because it just might happen and I don’t want to give anything away!
How do you see Katama in the future?
Our collections are always expanding and our customer base is increasingly global. In the near future, I see us continuing with that success. In more time, again, you’ll just have to wait and see!
Do you have any advice for MMSCENE readers who would like to pursue career in fashion industry?
If you want to get into modeling then send images of yourself in to IMG Models. They are the best. If it doesn’t work out, then maybe the timing isn’t right. Definitely keep doing what you are doing that inspires you and furthers you and challenges you every day. Take photos every day with a real camera. Don’t take no for an answer but be easy about it. If it’s right for you and meant to be then it will happen for you eventually.
Model Garrett Neff at IMG MODEL Sydney
Photographer Pat Supsiri – www.patsupsiri.com
Stylist Andrew Hainsworth
Make up Annabel Barton at viviens creative management , Sydney
Hair Keiran Street at viviens creative management , Sydney
Special Thank you to Luxico for location.