In our ongoing series,Model in the Spotlight, we get up close and personal with the world's leading male models.
Dedicated watchers of male-model street style have no doubt noticed in recent months a proliferation of t-shirts and baseball caps emblazoned with the bold logo of ROC Line, the new clothing line from Andrew Westermann, better known as the current face of Hugo Boss and an edgy favorite of houses like Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, and Raf Simons. It's a savvy bit of promotion for the multitalented model, who is working to build interest in advance of the coming launch of a full online shop with a collection of 20 or so streetwear designs that play with long shapes and abstract prints. Westermann, who says he knew nothing about fashion until he became a model, gamely acknowledges his neophyte status, but is clearly passionate and ready to learn—and it's not every new designer who can count heavy-hitters Kim Jones and photographer Pierre Debusschere as mentors.
Height: 6' 2"
Hometown: Cologne, Germany
Agency: Tomorrow Is Another Day
How were you discovered? I was 16 and doing some shopping and I just walked down the street past the agency. Eva, who runs the agency, approached me, and I was with them for years and years and I never did anything. Then when I was eighteen or nineteen, Eva saw me again on the same street and asked if I wanted to come to Paris and I said, "Why not?" I was finally tall enough and I finally looked old enough.
What was your first modeling job? I did the Valentino show straightaway, I think on my second day. It was my first casting ever.
What's the most memorable modeling job you've had? Closing the Spring 2014 Louis Vuitton show was really special, because I'm so close to Kim Jones and stylist Alister Mackie, and for years I've been watching the collections start from zero through to the end. David Beckham was sitting there, and I'd been to dinner with him before, so before the show, he came up to me and asked if I was nervous, and it was just surreal that he remembered me. The jacket was 120,000—with all this mother-of-pearl woven in by this one Japanese lady—and I had two security guards at my rack, and when I came down, they took the jacket straightaway. We hadn't seen it in sunlight, so when I went out in the glass box, it just started glowing. I didn't know it was going to do that, so it was crazy. I felt like a superstar that day.
What expectations did you have before you started working as a model? I didn't know what to expect. When I started, I didn't even know half of the brands—even huge brands like Lanvin. I didn't expect anything, because you see so many guys at castings, and there's thousands or millions of guys who want to do it, so you never think you will get to a certain point, whatever point that is.
What would you be doing now if you weren't modeling? I don't know! I thought about that the other week, and I just can't imagine which way I would have gone. I have so many friends who are in fashion that have become almost like family now that it's unthinkable—even if I stop modeling—not to be in it anymore. I have no idea, I'd probably be studying something I didn't want to study and trying to play music and that's it.
What kind of music do you play? I used to be in a band called Tommy and the Krauts. We played plain old rock-and-roll and, in Germany, we were quite well-known. We played concerts in big halls, but then that stopped because everyone finished school and went off in different directions. I went solo and started playing more acoustic, singer-songwriter music. At the moment I'm working with different producers from Germany and just doing the vocals and playing guitar, so it's gone from rock-and-roll to electronic.
Do you want to pursue music more in the future? Yeah. It's hard at the moment because I don't have the time and I don't really have the space to sit down and play as loud as I can, but I want to try and combine everything. The modeling could help with the music, and then the clothing line could work with both too. I want to see how far I can get with everything.
How did you decide to start ROC Line? Anders Hayward (seen above at left) looks good wearing one of your shirts in this photo. I was doing looks for so many designers—Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton—and I was always surrounded by so much inspiration, and I thought, "Well, someone had to start it." I'm never going to get up to that high-fashion level with what I'm doing right now, but it's more about seeing if I can do the same thing that they did, if I can build something out of nothing just from having an idea.
How has your experience as a model shaped the way you work? I don't have much design experience myself, so what I'm doing right now is more about prints. I work with Kim a lot, and he is so good at what he does because he goes through fabrics, he goes through hardware, and he makes everything look so rich. He could make a yellow rain jacket look like it costs $10,000. I can't really do that at the moment, so what I'm trying to do is more about shapes that are inspired by what I see on the street and then using prints. My good friend Pierre Debusschere, a photographer, showed me lots of different abstract ways of seeing things, so I combine a bit of Kim and a bit of Pierre—classic and abstract in a print—and that's the most I can do at the moment.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? I thought about this for quite a while, but it's probably that you're not doing the job until you walk out. For a show, you're not doing the job until someone sends you out, and for a campaign, you haven't done the job until it's out in the magazines. So don't get your hopes up, and if it doesn't happen, it just doesn't happen. If you're not what they're looking for, don't cry!
—Jonathan Shia, follow him @JonathanShia