can the contents of this season’s high-end men’s fashion magazines and you will notice a curious trend: male models are getting older. Though young models, aged 16-24, still dominate editorial content, models over 30—once an extremely rare species—are now being featured everywhere. Even stranger, these older models actually look their age. Wrinkles and gray hair seem especially coveted. Men in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and, in a couples cases, 60s can all be found serving as models in current magazines. For many of these magazines, the turn to older models has resulted in novel editorial content. Issue 19 of VMan, for example, contains a tongue-in-cheek “Dress Your Age” shoot, a brief “Then and Now” photo story that juxtaposes pictures of 30-year-old models with their 20-year-old selves, and a photo-driven interview with 52-year-old Jeff Aquilon, the “first male supermodel,” that revels in the aging male body. The Autumn/Winter issue of Vogue Hommes International is even more daring: the entirety of its content is devoted to men aged 40 or above. Editor Olivier Lalanne explains that successful “mature” males offer both “a glowing physical presence” and “experience and energy” that are “an electrifying inspiration.” Though not every men’s fashion magazine has embraced the older male so thoroughly, all of them seem to be at least looking in their direction. The ubiquitous interviews with “up-and-coming” youth that once made up the majority of text-based content have given way (at least for the moment) to stories on established and successful cultural figures. The simplest—and, to my mind, least convincing—explanation for this trend is the current “graying” of the West. According to The Fiscal Times, 24 percent of the U.S. population is currently age 50 or above, a figure that is set to rise in the coming decades due to increased life expectancies and declining birth rates. Meanwhile, the last of the baby boomers are approaching retirement, during which they will trade work (or so the story goes) for leisure-based lifestyles. Transgenerational Design, a research and advocacy organization, predicts new retirees will exercize more, travel more, and pursue more part-time, intellectually stimulating employment. Unlike earlier generations of seniors, the boomers are thus expected to be more active consumers. The new prevalence of older male models in fashion magazines would therefore seem to indicate a shift in marketing strategy on the part of the fashion industry as it adapts to demographic change. There are two problems with this hypothesis, however. First, it mis-understands the older demographic group, to whom it attributes too much spending power and too great a susceptibility to magazine-driven brand-based luxury marketing. Five years ago it may have been reasonable to expect aging baby boomers to transform the senior population into a new, major segment of discretionary consumption. In the aftermath of the economic collapse, however, which caused most adult Americans to lose 30 to 50 percent of their retirement savings, these retirees will have much tighter household budgets. For those who do still have sufficient income to purchase high-end menswear, such purchases will almost certainly be continuations of spending patterns begun in their youth. Individual demand for designer fashion is built across a lifetime and is highly dependent on the early development of aspirational relationships to specific brands. It is thus highly unlikely that any new demand for expensive menswear is going to be instilled in men aged 50 and above simply by using older models in high-end magazines. Second, the “marketing to an aging population” argument mistakes editorial content for advertising campaigns. Certainly there is an incestuous relationship between high-end fashion magazine staff and fashion advertising talent, but the trend towards older male models is currently wholly confined to magazine editorials. In this season’s advertising campaigns by Gucci, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, and other leading fashion houses, older men are nowhere to be found. Though it is possible that editorial content is serving as an industry testing ground, it seems more likely that the shift towards older models is instead being driven by magazines’ own economic needs. The market for high-end fashion magazines, which grew tremendously in the first half of the current decade, has steadily declined since the economic crisis. Ad sales have dropped (at the end of 2008 the number of ad pages sold by the magazine industry fell 10%, according to The Publishers Information Bureau), as have newsstand purchases. High-end magazines are especially susceptible to dips in consumer spending as they typically cost between $15 and $50 dollars an issue. If magazines are thus turning to older models, this is no doubt partly driven by basic cost-cutting: older models are generally cheaper to hire. They also, at least at the moment, provide magazines with new possibilities for creative content and thus new ways to prompt consumers to buy their issues from the newsstand or take out subscriptions. There remains one final, economic-related explanation for the new trend of older male models. It is has been repeatedly observed that the cut and style of designer clothing becomes more conservative during economic downturns. Perhaps consumers’ cultural tastes similarly adjust in such downturns, shifting away from surface beauty and the excitement of youth and gravitating more towards experience and genuine accomplishment. This is all speculative, of course, but it does seem likely that the live-in-the-moment, consumption-based lifestyle of Western youth is—at least, temporarily—coming to an end. In October, the U.S. reported an unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds of 18.6%. The editorial shift towards older male models might thus represent a wider scale cultural shift regarding the “image” of success and achievement. In a world where jobs are scarce and high levels of education indispensable for economic survival, the old truth that “Youth is beauty” may have finally had its day.
Anyway, whatever the reason for this trend, we are personally pleased to see these men on the pages of our magazines. Of course, they have benefited from an uncommon genetic heritage, an extreme attention to their lifestyle, a natural predisposition that are probably not common to the average man; neverthless, they make us realize that age limits are in some ways relative, and that to be cool is not necessarily an exclusive privilege of youth, but a treasure that can be stored over the years. So, in honor of these men and their beauty, whether natural or the result of hard work, here’s a selection of recent photos of some of the most gorgeous male models over 40 years old.
Cameron Alborzian (born February 26, 1967)
Gracing the pages of almost every popular fashion magazine for over 2 decades, Cameron’s career has taken him to heights of the fashion world. This model of Persian and British heritage is a favorite of Lagerfeld and Versace and many other European fashion houses. Since 2001, Cameron’s life has evolved around Yoga for years in witch since he has endeavored to serve the natural healing world with powerful healings of Yoga.
Tyson Beckford (born December 19, 1970)
The child of a Jamaican father and Chinese-American mother, Tyson is an American citizen but grew up in Jamaica and Rochester, New York. Tyson was scouted by an editor from hip-hop magazine ‘The Source’ in 1991. Through that connection, he hooked up with a New York agency, and within months, Beckford was before the lenses of Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber. It was Weber who first brought the model to Lauren, who nabbed him for the company’s sport, fragrance and body lines. By 1995, Beckford was on the covers of major magazines, including Paper and Essence and multiple-page spreads in Vogue, GQ, the New York Times and Details.
Bruce Hulse (born March 13, 1953)
Considered by many a living legend, Bruce has worked in modeling for three decades, during the industry’s most glamorous and edgy era – the 80s and 90′s . His face in his prime is still considered by many to be the best in the world.
Joe Kloenne (born 1953)
Symbol of the longevity in a world where young people seems the most fundamental thing, Joe Kloenne (USA) is still modeling for so many agencies around the world including Elite and Storm; he lives in USA and Europe
John Pearson (born 1963)
John Pearson began modeling at age 21. Now at 46 he’s still modeling represented by Storm Models. From Drakkar to the signature line, his legacy will live on as the top 25 male models ever as he was a regular in GQ magazine, which for men is still the creme de la creme.
Hoyt Richards (born April 10, 1962)
Richards became one of the biggest names in modeling in the late 1980s and 1990s. He is viewed by many in the industry as being the first male supermodel. He appeared in hundreds of advertising campaigns and was photographed by Bruce Weber, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Horst, and Albert Watson. His campaigns include Gianni Versace, Valentino, Gianfranco Ferré, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Dunhill, Cartier, and Donna Karan.
Marcus Schenkenberg (born August 4, 1968)
Marcus Lodewijk Schenkenberg van Mierop, better known as Marcus Schenkenberg, is a Swedish model of Dutch and Indonesian descent. He is born in Solna (Stockholm County) and has dual citizenship with Sweden and the Netherlands. Schenkenberg, best known for his Calvin Klein advertisements in the early 90s, is also an actor, singer, writer, and TV personality. He has been modelling for 20 years, and is still the highest paid male model. In 2009 his name “Marcus Schenkenberg” established to an international brand, including products like fragrance, cosmetics, jewellery, a fitness DVD and a bodywear-collection.
Paul Sculfor (born 1971)
Born in Essex, Sculfor was boxer and builder, before embarking on a career as a model. After studying acting with the Meisner method at Actors Temple in London, under Tom Radcliffe’s guidance, he obtained worldwide popularity thanks to a commercial for Levi’s. He worked for major fashion brands such as Christian Dior, Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier and Aeffe.
Mark Vanderloo (born April 24, 1968)
The Dutch model Vanderloo has been the primary model for Hugo Boss black and white print ads and billboards since 2005. He has also worked for Calvin Klein, Valentino, Donna Karan, Armani, Valentino, Trussardi and Guess. Vanderloo is signed to Wilhelmina Models in New York City.