The revolution of sexual identity and gender fluidity has left the social media realm and infiltrated mainstream America in the past few years. Generations Y and Z have repelled the unrealistic and glossy images of CIS identified airbrushed models, and have gravitated toward advertisements that reflect the real, average person; comfortable with their imperfections.
Businesses always check the pulse of the current trends of America, and with this new upheaval in liberal social identity, it has slowly been spilling into the modeling and fashion industries.
Marcus Sabinin is a Ukranian model currently living in Houston. He’s been pursuing his dream in the modeling industry for one year, but it has taken longer for him to become confident in his sexual identity and self-esteem.
“I used to be super shy with people when I was shooting. I thought people might think something of me”, said Sabinin. “But I soon got over it. For example I got featured in OUT, one of the biggest gay magazines in the world. My mother sent the lookbook photoshoot to all of my relatives and family friends. I was completely fine with it and it’s nothing that I should be ashamed of.”
Being 20-years-old, Sabinin recalls his years in Ukraine that had given him a hard time modeling and lowered his confidence in his sexuality as a male model.
“Growing up in Ukraine, everything is super conservative. Male modeling is not even a thing there; there is no male models. It’s starting to change right now, but when I was growing up if you wear skinny jeans you’re gay, if you wear earrings you’re gay, if you even listen to indie rock you’re gay. So that’s why deep inside of me, I didn’t feel confident while modeling. But not I’m completely over it. I mean, who cares what people think. I think being a male model is cool.”
The fashion industry is currently seeing an upheaval of skinny, airbrushed models and a renaissance of models whom are real and imperfect; from brands featuring armpit hair and plus sized women, to companies like the lingerie brand Aerie vowing to not airbrush their models. Consumers have tired of seeing advertisements of models whom have unrealistic bodies, and instead want to see imagery that is a reflection of them and people in everyday society; including the various sexual identities that more people are comfortable in revealing.
Local brands like BKBT Concept are inspired by this gender inclusive revolution, with their brand stocking genderless designs from their own line and international designers. According to their website, social norms cannot determine gender roles, such as the way we dress, what we think or the things we consume. More companies are adopting this line in thinking, as well as their casting of models to reflect the recent open view on gender and sexual identity.
As a working model in the industry, Sabinin has had a keen eye on this development.
“It depends on the designer. Some still want the perfect body and face, but I shoot with more high fashion photographers and designers who want to show something new to the world. For instance I shot with Preston Douglas, and he had me in this top where he wanted to show off my long, skinny arms. But there has been a lot of models nowadays that have an interesting look. And I’ve even seen some brands that use an 80-year-old model because they want to show something new. They want to be different, and they want people to pay attention to their brand.”