Matthew Barnett (who is signed with Supa in London, Re:Quest in New York and Independent Men in Milan) was discovered in London just two years ago. He has since gone on to shoot by Sasha Hitchcock and Ian Cole, grace the pages of GQ, Fashionisto and Carbon Copy magazinea, and walk for Topman, Ports 1961, Mark McNairy, and Duckie Brown, among others. He may not be at New York Fashion Week, but we did manage to catch up with Barnett, who talked to us about Burberry and Prada, shooting with Ian Cole, the downsides of modeling and more ...
The Fashion Law – How old are you and what's your nationality?
Matthew Barnett – I've just turned 20 and I'm British.
The Fashion Law – What was your first big modeling job?
Matthew Barnett – I started modeling just before I turned 18. It took me a good amount of time to actually make any money but my first 'big' modeling job was probably a fourteen page spread in Ian Cole's Carbon Copy, which we shot in the humble city of Liverpool.
The Fashion Law – How do you think you are different from other models?
Matthew Barnett – To be honest, I don't really think I'm that different from other models. We all look different for sure, but at the end of the day you can categorise us into different models. I think, if I do have a difference to some other models, it's that I don't take it too seriously. Modeling's not a permanent job for me and I have lots of other stuff that occupies my time.
The Fashion Law – What did you think of modeling before you got started?
Matthew Barnett – Before I started I didn't really know what modeling was! I had about as much knowledge about agencies, castings, fashion weeks etc as any other 17 year-old boy. Perhaps my sisters' (I have seven of them) frequent viewing of 'Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model' gave me some clue, however ...
The Fashion Law – What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Matthew Barnett – I really enjoyed my first season in New York when I was 18. The city is incredible and I had a great time walking for Duckie Brown, Perry Ellis and Mark McNairy. I didn't really go out there with the intention of doing loads of work and earning any money - it was more the fact that I wanted to go away for the summer and get a good tan!
The Fashion Law – Do you think there are any downsides to modeling?
Matthew Barnett – I think there are many downsides to modeling; the preying nature of some people in the industry makes me very angry. Especially when the model feels subjected to do whatever in order to "further their career." Secondly, I don't think there is enough money in the agencies for the new faces who are travelling abroad. It's horrible having to ask your parents for money in order to go away for fashion weeks before you've got any shows guaranteed.
The Fashion Law – Is there a particular designer or design house that you absolutely want to work with?
Matthew Barnett – As a Brit I think it's obvious that I'd love to work for Burberry, but clients such as Prada and Neil Barrett appeal to me more purely because I think they're really shaping the industry in a far more influential way.
The Fashion Law – What do you like to do when you're not traveling/working?
Matthew Barnett – Outside of modeling, I'm actually studying at Goldsmiths College in South London for a degree in English Literature. I have a humble abode in South London's Peckham which I share with my friends from school and university. I'm a keen skateboarder. I play a bit of field hockey. I am a very amateur photographer (which goes hand in hand with modeling). I'm also very much into my house and disco, and waste a lot of my time DJing in a fairly inebriated state.
The Fashion Law – What have you learned about the business of fashion so far?
Matthew Barnett – Um, tough one. Don't be late. Charlie's (from SUPA) beaten that out of me. Go to your castings even though you don't think you'll get the job (he's also beaten that out of me). And say 'yes' - some of my favorite shots in my book are from test shoots.
The Fashion Law – You've done quite a few things lately. How do you think this past season was for you?
Matthew Barnett – Yeah, I did Topman in London but didn't go to Milan for personal reasons. Aside from shows I've just done the Autumn campaign for Primark. The team were ace and just lovely to work with.
The Fashion Law – What are you plans for September? Will we see you in New York?
Matthew Barnett – I'm moving into my new house so that's going to be a biggie. Heading to Berlin in September (for play, not work). Then Mint festival in Leeds and then university again! Not feeling NYFW this September with all the house moving!! Maybe next season though.
The Fashion Law – Where do you see yourself in the next several years?
Matthew Barnett – Again, a tough one. I want to keep modeling for as long as I can stay in the game and use that to better my photography but I'm still so young. So, nothing is set in stone.
The Fashion Law – What are you obsessed with right now?
Matthew Barnett – Buying cheap furniture from second-hand shops.