On Friday night in Miami, Hood By Air held a fashion show in a hotel pool. Not around a hotel pool. Not on a catwalk built over the pool, but actually in the water. The occasion was the label's party in association with MoMA PS1 at the Delano Hotel to celebrate a new line of t-shirts with South African photographer Pieter Hugo. Of course, before all of that, HBA had to find models to actually fill both the clothes and the pool.
Casting Director Walter Pearce turned to the brand's tradition of casting non-professional models. It wasn't street casting, per say. Pearce only had a single day to actually view people in person. Instead, he turned to both word of mouth and an Instagram-based casting call. The result is a mix of kids who happened to be in town for Art Basel and Miami locals. Most of them had never walked in a major fashion show, but, as seems to be typical of the result of Pearce's non-traditional casting methods, for some of them it might not be their last.
"Sometimes I end up turning people into real models," said Pearce. "I've street cast people, and then they get cast to an agency and they suddenly start walking huge shows."
You can read more about the party and Pearce's casting methods here, but first meet the models.
Christopher, 16, a student from Bay Harbor Islands.
On how he found about it: "I had a friend just tag me and said I should go in for this. I DM'ed them actually, sent them three pics and said 'Hey, I'd love to shoot for your event,' and they got back to me and I went to the casting."
On any previous modeling experience: "No, this is like the craziest thing I've ever done. I'm super excited about it."
Gleb, 19, a student from Toronto via Russia.
Oh how he got cast: "My friend is a DJ, and he used to model for HBA, and this is my second time in Miami and I'm not really related to any fashion thing."
One whether he's excited: "It's a new experience certainly, and I think it's going to be really uncommon for me, but I feel great. It should be fun."
Kymani 19, a singer who goes by the name Tama Gucci from El Portal.
On being cast: "I'm not signed to any agencies, so when I saw the opportunity and I heard back from them I was ecstatic. I've done it before when I was smaller, but this is my first show as a 19-year-old doing this on my own. It's really big for me."
On making a name for himself in Miami: "I'm just seeing what I can get into in Miami, especially because, well, I don't want to say clique-y, but you kind of have to be at the right place, at the right time."
On the peacocks that roam the street in his neighborhood: "They're super annoying because they get in the way of the cars, so you're just waiting for them to move, but I love them.
Brad, 31, from Miami.
On how he found about the casting: "Just from a friend that I work within the art community in Miami."
On any previous fashion experience: "I've done a couple things like this, but it's not my normal thing. I do Everglades restoration. It's a little different."
Cyber, 23, a DJ
On how he got cast: "Walter [Pearce] is my friend. He does the casting so he just invited me. We had wanted to link up."
On how he wound up in Miami for the week: "I'm a DJ so I travel a lot for fashion weeks, and Miami is just one of my trips."
Harley, 18, a model from Fontainebleau .
On previous modeling experience: "This is my first time for a high fashion brand, but I do model for street wear brands and stuff like that."
On whether he's an HBA fan: "I know about them, but, uh, yeah, not really, but definitely I'm excited."
Dallas, 18, a restaurant host from Asheville, North Carolina
On how he was cast: "I found out about it on Instagram, I wanted to go to Art Basel, but it wasn't really just worth going down just because. But then Hood by Air hit me up, so then I was like 'Why don't I make a trip out of this and then go around during Art Basel."
On previous modeling: "Not really. For fun sometimes, or with my friends for little small labels, but never anything like this."
On his future plans: "I'm trying to go to Fashion Institute of Technology next year. I'm on like a gap year right now."
Carlos, 24, from Wynwood.
On his outfit: "Yeah, I'm fine with it. It's what I signed up for."
On how he got cast: "Someone just reached out to me randomly on Instagram. They DM'ed me and told me all about and thought I'd be interested.
Hunter, 22, a model from Brooklyn via Pembroke Pines
On how he got cast: "Actually my friend tagged me on [the Instagram casting call] and I sent pictures and they got back to me right away."
On staying with his grandparents: "I'm signed with New York Models in New York, so that's what I'm doing over there. I'm just staying here right now, trying to save money, because New York's kinda expensive. My grandparents lived here, so I was crashing with them when this thing came up."
On his birthday: "It's actually my birthday today. I just turned 22."
Benjamin, 20, from North Miami via Liberia, Africa.
On how he was cast: "One of my friends, Johan, just told me about it, and I came to the casting and they chose me. I'm excited to be part of a Hood By Air fashion show. It's a great opportunity for me to walk in it.
On Hood By Air: "Big, big, big fan of the brand. Love it."
Greg, 19, a skater from Wynwood.
On how he got cast: "They found me skating at one of their events. I'm from here, and they just called me over here."
On whether he's excited: "I'm neutral about it, because honestly I haven't really gone outside with the outfit, so I'm not really sure how it'll be."
Dominic from Tampa
On how he got cast: "I just saw it on Instagram, so I messaged Walter Pierce. He had cast me before for a Kenzo photo shoot a little while ago. So when I Dm'ed he immediately replied. I felt really good about that."
On his hobbies: "I enjoy art, and I collect clothing, like I archive clothing, and I'd like to get more involved in this if possible."
Rolando, 18 a student from Tamiami.
On being cast: "I found out from my friend that they had a casting at the Grand Beach hotel, and they said they liked my look."
On his future plans: "I'm in college but it's my last semester because I didn't want to keep going with it. I just want to focus on this right now, like fashion and music."
Christian, 21 from Palm Beach. On how he was cast: "A friend just recommended me, and told me I should do it."
On previous experience: "I've done photo-shoots, but not anything like this. Not runway.
Joey, 21 a model from Brooklyn.
On how he was cast: "Ian [Isiah] hit me up today. I was just out here for Basel."