Algeria-born, New York/Paris-based Younes Bendjima (RE:Quest, Angels & Demons, I Love Models and Elite Copenhagen) made his modeling debut walking for Givenchy for Spring/Summer 2013. He has since gone on to walk for Hermès, Berluti, Moncler, and Roccobarocco, among others. He has graced the pages of Vanity Teen, OOB, Bite and Coitus magazines – just to name a few – and in GCDS’ lookbook. We caught up with Younes, who talked about how he’s different from other models, boxing, staying humble, and more …
The Fashion Law – How old are you and what’s your nationality?
Younes Bendjima – I’m 23 and I’m Algerian.
The Fashion Law – When were you scouted and what were you doing before you started modeling?
Younes Bendjima – I was scouted in New York City 3 years ago. Before I was a boxer and was working with my dad in his restaurant.
The Fashion Law – Business today is so much about branding do you feel like models are brands?
Younes Bendjima – Of course. When they choose us for the show, or the lookbook or campaign, its like we are part of the brand, and we need to represent it in the good way. So, yes I think models are part of the brands.
The Fashion Law – How do you think you are different from other models?
Younes Bendjima – I have a big character, big personality. I’m a boxer. So, you know every day I train to gain my motivation. In boxing, you don’t speak, you act directly. Also, I think I’m pretty different because it is infrequent to find Arabic guys in the modeling industry. So, I have my chance.
The Fashion Law – What did you think of modeling before you got started?
Younes Bendjima – I thought it was the best job. You come, they take pictures, you leave, and they pay you! But now I know its not like this. My family and my friends were telling me, ‘You should start modeling. You have face for.’ But I was like, ‘No it’s not for me.’
The Fashion Law – What has been the highlight of modeling for you so far? Was there a specific job you loved?
Younes Bendjima – I think it was the Hermes show. I love this brand for men. Its very class, very manly. And the show was amazing.
The Fashion Law – Do you think there are any downsides to modeling?
Younes Bendjima – Yes. The fashion is changing all the time, and so, the models are, too. One day, boom – you can work a lot and make big money, and then the next day nothing and every body forgets about you. So, you need to stay humble, and work on something other than the modeling.
The Fashion Law – Do you think you are doing a good job in trying to stay humble?
Younes Bendjima – Yes, I think so. I always stay humble. I don’t like when people think they are superior. I’m not this kind of guy. I don’t speak a lot. I keep to myself and I do my job.
The Fashion Law – Is there a particular designer or design house that you absolutely want to work with?
Younes Bendjima – Hmm … Maybe the Italian brand, Dolce [and] Gabbana, or Calvin Klein. They are more me. In France, I can’t work a lot. They love skinny guys, and Arabic guys are not really working much there. I’ll be in Milan for the next fashion week. I’ll see!
The Fashion Law – What do you like to do when you’re not traveling/working?
Younes Bendjima – When I’m not working, I’m staying with my family. I take care of my mum. I spend time with my friends. Its very important for me. I am boxing and go to the gym and I’m working in a restaurant with my father.
The Fashion Law – Where do you see yourself in the next several years?
Younes Bendjima – I would love to get my own restaurant, and make a family and children. That’s the real life for me. Modeling is good but it’s just a hobby for me, and it’s really hard to live only with modeling.
The Fashion Law – What are you obsessed with right now?
Younes Bendjima – My future. Day after day, life is not easy, you know? So, you need to be strong. My friends tell me every time, ‘Listen, you are young. Enjoy your life, girls, party,” and what I always answer is: ‘No. For me, the real life is my family, my friends, and my future, my home, my children. That’s all.’ I don’t like to go out. I prefer to stay home. I’m a teddy bear.