Photo by Melodie Jeng
There's nothing about talking to the fashion industry's most in-demand male models about which we can complain. In the case of John Hein, that conversation is so much more than just looking at a pretty face. Hein's prosperous modeling career, which started in 2011, is still blossoming, but chances are you recognize that face and those cheekbones. Not to mention, he proved himself to be a rad conversationalist, having received a science degree from one of the nation's best universities. Our Fashion Features Editor, Jessica Minkoff, sat down with the 24-year-old "it" model, chatting about his college band, his eating habits, and what it's like to break into the modeling industry.
MC: Where are you from?
JH: Michigan, near Lansing. I went to school in Ann Arbor.
MC: Does your family still live in Michigan?
JH: Yes, my family is still in Michigan. I am actually going home this month because my friend is getting married and I booked a show in Michigan.
MC: What kind of show?
JH: I used to be in punk bands and stuff. I booked a show at a venue in Ann Arbor.
MC: Oh, so you are a musician?
JH: Let's just say I used to yell into a microphone.
MC: What does your family think about you being a model?
JH: They are stoked. They think its the coolest thing. I have a pretty big family two brothers, two sisters, a cat, and a dog, and my parents are still together. I wasn't well off as a kid, so I didn't get to travel a lot. My family is excited and super supportive of me.
MC: I assume that you childhood dream wasn't to be a model, so how were you discovered?
JH: I went to college at the University of Michigan. I graduated with a degree in Environmental Science and Sustainable Foods. I took class with hippies in Patagonia jackets. I finished in 2011 and moved to LA right after. On my third day in L.A. I was at the Pasadena Rose Bowl flea market buying a vintage shirt or something like that, and this guy who ended up being a designer approached me and said that a model had dropped out of a shoot last minute and asked if I wanted to do it. I did the job and the photographer sent me to a bunch of agencies in LA and I was signed to Ford in LA. Then, I came to New York for Fashion Week in 2012 and Ford NY told me to move here. Three weeks later I came.
MC: What was your first modeling job?
JH: I did an Interview Magazine shoot with Craig McDean and Karl Templer. It was a menswear story called "Double Vision." It was rad. Right after, I went to Milan and did all of Karl's shows Valentino, Belstaff, and Bottega.
MC: Was it difficult to support yourself in NYC when you were just starting out?
JH: When I moved to L.A., I had no money and then I came here with no money, so I started working catering jobs, which was absolutely terrible except for the free liquor. I had been watching Party Down at the time and it was almost exactly like what I was doing, which was fun. Then I started working as a hotel host, and I quit when I found out that I was going to Japan.
MC: What was your first runway experience?
JH: I did my first runway show in June 2012. Then I did New York Fashion Week in September. I walked in Tommy Hilfiger, Custo Barcelona, Robert Geller, and Siki Im. I skipped January because I was in Japan working on a bunch of random things. I was there for three months and I signed with Bon Image.
MC: What was it like living in Japan?
JH: I lived alone in a Japanese studio that was the size of the bathrooms here in New York.
MC: Do you have any favorite designers?
JH: I like Robert Geller, Jil Sander, and Raf Simons. Common Projects are my favorite shoes. I am really into thrift shopping. It is one of my biggest hobbies. I always look for old vintage pieces.
MC: What are the pros of being a model?
JH: The pros are that I get to travel a lot. I just went to Japan and Milan last year and L.A. not so long ago. Next month I am going to Paris, London, and Milan for the menswear shows. It will be my first complete season. Other pros are having a lot of free time to do whatever I like. It also stays interesting because you are working with different crews all of the time, and you get to work with really great people. I just walked in the Versus Versace show so I got to work with JW Anderson's team all week and they are really cool people.
MC: And the cons?
JH: I don't like to tell a lot of people that I am a model because they automatically assume that I am an idiot. There is a lot of judgement and people tend to think that you are stupid or shallow. Also, there is a lot of waiting. You have to wait around and than rush to do something when you are told. And when you first start out you have to work for free a lot, which can be weird.
MC: What do you do to stay in shape?
JH: I am naturally skinny all the boys in my family are. I am also a vegan so maybe that helps I mean, that is how I stay healthy. I have been a vegetarian for eight years. I started that because of animal rights, but in college I stepped it up and became a vegan for political reasons and health reasons. I feel better eating this way. I do say that I am domestically vegan because I ate fish in Japan but I wont eat it here.
MC: What are some of your favorite foods?
JH: Peanut butter and saroja hot sauce. I make an insane Thai peanut sauce and I put it on everything. I also like curry. I am very into cooking. I like all cuisines, really, except for American food. Indian is great. And I probably eat falafel everyday.
MC: What do you like to do when you have time off?
JH: I like to hang in the park a lot. In the summer I like to play beach volleyball. I grew up in the punk community so I go to a lot of concerts. I also like stand up comedy shows. I go to Hannibal Buress' show at the Knitting Factory on Sundays. I think it's the perfect art form.
MC: If you weren't a model, what would you like to be doing?
JH: I would probably be doing something with my degree. Sustainable food is still a passion of mine so maybe I would work for a non-profit to try and change America's view on what we put into our bodies.
MC: If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you want to go?
JH: The future.
MC: Is there something that people may not know about you that you can share with Marie Claire?
JH: Most people reading this probably don't know anything about me (laughs). I am pretty shameless, so I don't keep secrets. But I may be the world's biggest Seinfeld fan. That show was like my third parent.