Zach Miko never felt good enough for modelling
Male model Zach Miko used to think fashion was too "elite" for him.
The bearded fashion star is one of the first recognised plus-size men in the industry, and is the first larger male to sign to prestigious model agency IMG’s new Brawn Division. He's now posed for retail giants Target, plus-size brand BadRhino and editorials in Vogue, something which Zach never anticipated when he was younger.
"I kind of grew up without fashion in my life," he told Refinery29. "I appreciated it very much, but it was not something I was physically able to take part in, just because of my size and shape. I did think that it was just, like, this elite group; that if you weren't up to the beauty standards they've decided, you had no right to be part of it.
"Actually getting involved in fashion, I found that it was the complete opposite of that. It's just an ever-evolving industry, and especially right now. I feel like we're going through huge growing pains, in a good way, with the issues of size and diversity, and I can't believe I actually kind of get to be a part of that evolution."
Zach began his career as an actor, and moved into fashion when a hair and make-up artist informed his manager there was a modelling spot for a "big-and-tall guy" coming up. At 6ft 6in, with a 42in waist, the rugged 26-year-old fit the bill.
He remembers how overwhelmed he was to eventually sign with the same company that looks after the likes of Kate Moss and plus size beauty, Ashley Graham.
"So I went in with my acting manager, we met, we talked, and it was all very overwhelming," he recalled of joining IMG. "Ivan (Bart, IMG president) was so cool and straightforward... As a big guy, it's just awesome to see different body types represented in anything. I had been following Ashley Graham, so I knew they repped her, and Ivan starts telling me his whole view of IMG Models is to continue to push for inclusion and diversity and just to evolve standards of beauty and evolve the fashion world."