In his second cover story for DA MAN Style, Will Chalker shares even more tales from his career and life beyond the runways.
Sixteen years (give or take) after his first professional fashion feature, about fourteen after his first major runway show (Givenchy’s fall 2005 menswear show, that is) and four after his first appearance on DAMAN Style, Will Chalker is still on top of his game. And while fronting big fashion and fragrance brands are still his bread and butter, Chalker has also increasingly shown his gentler side to the world, especially his strength as a literal father figure. From tales of family life to bits of wisdom from an industry veteran, Will Chalker still has quite a lot of stories to share with us.
DA MAN: Hi, Will. Awesome to have you with us again; how are you doing?
Will Chalker: I had such a fun day with you guys. I’m very well—I’m home now enjoying some time off.
DA: We last featured you in 2015. What are some of the highlights from your career since then?
WC: Highlights work wise since I saw you last include great editorials for various magazines and campaigns for Aqua di Parma, Belstaff, J.Crew, Gap, Esprit, Massimo Dutti, Tods, The Kooples, Uniqlo and Aquascutum.
DA: Not too long ago you did a photo shoot with your children, right? What was it like sharing that special experience as father and sons?
WC: That’s correct, we did a shoot at home with a great photographer, Olivier Yoan, for L’Officiel Homme Ukraine. We just had to make the whole day as fun as possible for the kids and I think we got some beautiful pictures. I loved it and the day seemed to go by in a flash. Everything seemed to come together once clothes have been decided upon and we’d worked out how to find an interesting picture.
DA: On the flip side, how did your kids feel about getting to do what their dad does?
WC: I think my eldest thought it was fun. He doesn’t see what all the fuss is about and why it takes more than one or two people to make the whole thing happen, but he enjoys meeting new people and having new people to play with. So, in that way it’s interesting for him. The twins are just starting to walk so they love being outside. We shot most of it in our garden, so they were happy too.
DA: What would you tell your sons if, years from now, one or more of them decide that they want to follow in your footsteps and become professional models?
WC: I think my eldest is starting to understand what I do for a job but won’t understand how much of a privilege it is until he’s a bit older and worked at least one or two other jobs. I’m really looking forward to seeing what career path each of them goes down and I want to be there to support them when they need it and pass on anything I’ve learned that might help them. I think the world will be a very different place when they come of age, so they won’t have anyone’s footprints to follow. They’ll have to make their own path.
DA: On that note, what’s the first thing that any aspiring model should know when they start their careers?
WC: Anyone starting out in the modelling world really has their work cut out for them these days as the industry changes very fast and there is a lot of competition. The way I started will be one avenue into it but everyone’s story is different. So, everyone has to do it the way they want to.
DA: Looking back to when you first started, what were some of the biggest challenges that you had to overcome at first?
WC: I think one of the biggest challenges you have to overcome is how little control you have in the beginning. It takes someone to believe in you, to see something about you that might mean a talented photographer stylist etc., can use you to make interesting images. The bookers that make those decisions have changed plenty of people’s lives for the better and they deserve a lot of recognition for doing so.
DA: What is the one thing that people—inside and outside the industry—most often get wrong about being a professional model?
WC: It has to be that models get lots clothes given to them. This only happens on rare occasions in my experience.
DA: Also in our previous interview, you mentioned about adapting to how the industry changes. Today, the biggest change is, obviously, social media. Do you feel that it’s important for you to be present on various social media platforms?
WC: I do think it can be important to be on social media, but it’s up to the individual how much you want to play along with it and how much you want to share. I think that it shouldn’t be mandatory but it does feel that way sometimes.
DA: What do you see as your biggest achievement so far?
WC: Each job often feels like a big achievement, just because of the amount of effort that goes into the preparation and production of every shoot.
DA: What was the craziest thing you ever had to do for a shoot?
WC: I’m not sure about crazy but I’m constantly having to do things that’re a bit daft like lying in the gutter in expensive Louis Vuitton pajamas as people walk past going about their business. They sometimes do a double take and probably think I’m crazy.
DA: Between doing runway shows and campaigns, which do you like better? And why?
WC: I find shooting on location much more fun and enjoyable than doing shows mainly because of the interesting places you might end up, from the British Museum to the top of Mont Blanc. Whereas with shows, you’re stuck in one place for hours with not much to do then it’s a mad rush for ten minutes and then it’s over.
DA: All in all, what do you enjoy the most about being a model?
WC: I love the interesting places I go, the people I meet and the things I get to see.
DA: Do you have anything big planned for the next few years or so? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
WC: Not too sure what the next few years will hold. I’ve just finished a big project, so I’m kind of taking a moment to take stock of things. I’ve been back in the gym and enjoying cooking and eating well, which I think is key to feeling good. I’m craving a bit of adventure, too, before I commit to something that takes all my time and energy.
DA: Have you ever been interested in branching out from into other aspects of the fashion industry?
WC: I can’t really see myself doing other things in the industry. I think my skills might take me elsewhere.
DA: Back in 2015, you mentioned how you spend most of your time outside of work with your family. What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a father?
WC: The most rewarding things about fatherhood are hidden in the little things, little moments that are gone in a flash. It might be a look they have that conveys a new emotion. It might be they’re learning something for the first time or start to get the hang of something they’ve been trying to do for a while. But, for the most part, it’s a lot of very tedious rounds of tidying up and changing nappies.
DA: And, finally, what do you think and hope will the journey ahead look like?
WC: Hard to say what the journey ahead looks like. There will always be ups and downs but I love life and always look ahead with positivity. There’s a quote from Winston Churchill on the wall of my boxing gym that says: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.” That’s a good thing to keep in mind when you’re making big plans.
Photography Mitchell McCormack
Styling Amir Dobos
Grooming Shukeel Murtaza using Bumble and bumble
Model Will Chalker/Select Model Management
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