Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Nemar Parchment, full-time model and London College of Fashion Alumni. We talked about his journey; how he ended up working for Fashion e-commerce powerhouse ASOS; how he’s currently making a living from modelling full-time and the experiences that linked it all together!
Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
I grew up in Brixton, I was a weird kid. To all my neighbours and adults in the area, I was always polite and everyone thought I was an angel, but at home and at school I was a bad kid. I would always get into trouble; telling the teachers what I really thought and for coming to school not wearing the uniform.
My mum would always say even though she obviously preferred me to be good all around, she said she preferred for everyone to think I’m an angel and be bad in the house because it doesn’t reflect badly on her!
What’s your earliest fashion related memory?
From a really young age – maybe year 4 or 5, I used the go to the library and take out the books that were about the different eras of fashion and I’d take them out and – this is so embarrassing lol – I would do my own designs based on each era… I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I started liking clothes and fashion but that’s my earliest memory in regards of me wanting to do fashion.
How did you end up on the LCF BA Fashion Management Course?
Oh my gosh! *laughs* Initially I went to Uni and I studied English language and Sociolinguistics. But I wasn’t feeling it then I thought, I’ve always loved fashion but I always had this thought in the back of my mind that you can’t make a lot of money from it, so I took a year out and started applying for lots of internships – I interned for a few different stylists and from that I thought I want to do Buying and Merchandising, so I went online to see the top Uni’s for fashion and I applied for LCF (London College of Fashion) I didn’t really want to go there; I didn’t like the vibe there but I knew it had the best name and having it on my CV, people would know LCF.
What was your time like there and on the course?
It just felt really pretentious, like “Look at me I am fashion” and I don’t like to surround myself with people who are in this deluded space. It wasn’t friendly, it wasn’t warm or welcoming and that vibe continued throughout the duration of my course. Obviously, I got my degree so… yeah!
Jordan said “ We’re launching a men’s plus size range” and thought I’d be amazing for it, “take my card” I was looking at him like, are you alright? I thought I was being pranked, I thought he was mocking me!
How did you get in with ASOS?
Before I was discovered I did Buying for ASOS and initially did a one-year Buying placement at River Island the year before. That was just to make sure that I got some hands on experience to find out what it was really like.
I went back to uni to finish my final year, I thought as soon as we graduate people will start applying, so I applied early, like in August and I didn’t hear back from them until January. Went for an interview and to their assessment centre, got the job and I started in February. But I was still at Uni, so I stopped going to lessons – I was working full-time and trying to finish up Uni. I was there for a year.
Then in regards to the modelling, ASOS had a summer party and the Creative Director saw me but at this point, I didn’t know that he had seen me. A few weeks after one of the model bookers, Jordan said “ We’re launching a men’s plus size range” and thought I’d be amazing for it, “take my card” I was looking at him like, “are you alright?” *laughs* I thought I was being pranked, I thought he was mocking me! *laughs*
Anyway, I did a test shoot for that and they seemed to really like me. My first proper shoot was a Christmas campaign. I met the Art Director of ASOS at a party we just got talking and realised we worked for ASOS and I told him that I gonna start modelling soon and he said you’d be perfect for our Christmas campaign. It was my favourite shoot to date.
What was your first shoot like? Were you nervous?
At that point, because I’d never done anything like that before it was a big thing to me, so I was nervous in regards to the fact that obviously I worked there and were people gonna judge me and blah, blah, blah.
What is life like now, what does a typical day look like for you?
So May and June were really quiet for me but the end of June, July I’ve been super busy.
Last week, Monday I had off. Tuesday I shot a beauty and grooming campaign for ASOS. That shoot finished at 5 pm, then at 7 pm, I had a flight to Germany from Gatwick because I had a shoot for Zalando. Didn’t get to sleep until 2 am then I had an 8 am call time for Zalando. Shot that, went back to London had a day’s break. Back at Asos shooting for their e-commerce. So it varies.
People are really happy that they’re being represented. Because I feel like I represent the bigger guy, the black guy, the LGBT guy.
What would you like to achieve in the next 1-2 years?
In regards to modelling, I really want to do a magazine cover or feature. I really want to do something that can help and benefit people. I feel like at the moment,
I’m modelling for a load of different people and I’m getting DM’s all the time and people are really happy that they’re being represented. Because I feel like I represent the bigger guy, the black guy, the LGBT guy and people are really proud and really happy that they have some kind of representation. But I feel like I wanna do something bigger. Fashion is amazing and it obviously pays my bills, but I feel like there’s more out there.
I was really triggered by what happened at Grenfell Tower. That day I was coming back from Germany, I landed at 4, saw it on the news slept for 3 hours and me and my friend went up there, I just felt these people need help.
I remember a lady saying that it’s not a black and white issue it’s a class issue. I understand what she was saying, that it’s low-income issue but the way the system in the UK is set up, it’s set up so that people of ethnic minorities are those people who are in low-income positions, so it does end up going back to a race issue.
I think taking the names off of CV’s is like a band-aid. The issue is racism and people’s prejudices, the issue is not my name.
I feel like there are bigger things and bigger issues going on, our system is so messed up, a lot of people need help. And I know this may sound corny and cliché, but I really want to help and better the black experience for people in the UK, because it’s evident that the way this system is set up; the data and statistics that are out there, I can’t remember the exact %’s but as a black person you can leave Uni with a degree, but you’re still less likely to get a job than that of a white person that has a degree and without. Apparently, they’re gonna start doing CV’s where you don’t put your name on it, that is blatantly showing everyone that there is prejudice against names that sound more ethnic. I think taking the names off of CV’s is like a band-aid. The issue is racism and people’s prejudices, the issue is not my name.
It upsets me to think that it took such a big thing like that (Grenfell) to happen, I get that a lot of people feel like the police and the government are against them but this was so evident like there was no disguising it at all. It’s just disgusting. I’ve always been woke to a degree, I’ve always been able to understand racism and how it works in the UK but that really shook me up like these people (the government) just don’t care
Any words of advice for someone who wants a career in fashion?
Don’t do it! Lol
Nah you have to really think if this is something you want to do, getting into this industry. It’s not easy. If you like fashion as a hobby, I wouldn’t do it as a career because it will no longer be an escape for you, it’s your work. Be prepared to work for free, be prepared for people to talk down to you and be prepared to work really hard for nothing. Take as many opportunities as you can. In this industry it’s really not about how good you are it’s about who you know and that goes for most industries but not all. Be nice to everyone because the industry is small, especially if you’re working in one particular field like Buying. You move around but everyone moves around with you. So you end up bumping into the same people.
Any guilty pleasures?
I love ratchet TV shows like Love & Hip-Hop, Bad Girls Club, Black Ink Crew. I know it’s not good for my soul and mental well-being but I love it.
Weirdest experience on a model job?
If you’re a model and you’re black you won’t find this weird, but I found when I first started modelling I found it so weird that hair stylists didn’t know what to do with black hair. It’s like being a Dr and not knowing about one part of the body, you’re supposed to know everything. As a hairstylist, you should know about all hair types and understand them, not just European hair.
I remember one time at a shoot I went to get my hair cut and the guy was nervous. It’s no secret…as a hairstylist or makeup artist in this industry, you can skate through life not knowing how to do black hair or makeup, because there’s no one to put pressure on anyone to learn these skills. You can get away with not knowing how to braid afro hair or comb out afro hair braid or cut or straighten black hair. So until the big corps and people who are hiring these people put pressure on them, it will continue. I remember seeing an advert once for black models but they wanted the black models to bring their own combs, like girl, come on! There’s no pressure on them to learn and people don’t care, but I’m very thankful that my makeup artist at ASOS she’s amazing, she knows how to do my skin.
What was your coming out experience like for you
I never had this whole moment like “Mum I’ve got something to tell you”. My whole thing was my sister didn’t have to sit my mum down so why do I have to? But everyone knows from a young age I‘d talk about guys. If you asked me I’d be like “Yeah” but I’ve never had this grand coming out thing. I don’t feel like it’s necessary. People put a lot of pressure on this moment and you don’t have to tell anyone anything. I understand why people do it, but I personally feel like my siblings didn’t have to sit anyone down so I’m not gonna do it. You might see me pull up to a family function with my boyfriend but I’m not gonna sit anyone down because being gay isn’t a big thing for me, it’s just who I am. From a young age I knew I was gay and even though some parents like to act like they didn’t know, bitch you know! My family are super close, they all know and I can call my sister and talk about guys, my whole family knows so it’s cool.
Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t’ let it drain you. If you feel you need to come out, come out when you’re ready.
Any advice to any of our readers who are battling with their sexuality.
I battled with it for a while at around 17 years old, even though I feel I’ve always been comfortable in my skin. I went through this whole thing where I thought I could pray the gay away, I was in church every day, I just felt like I was going to hell. But I was only 17 and I’m over it now, but I wanted to do everything in my power to get rid of this “demon” and just be straight.
Anyone that’s struggling with their sexuality I think that everything in life will just click. Everyone needs to realise it’s not a big deal anymore, it’s 2017. I understand parents come from different backgrounds they hold different things in different regards, but it’s not that deep. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t’ let it drain you. If you feel you need to come out, come out when you’re ready.
But don’t put too much on yourself because it can be mentally draining and can put you in a bad space. Everything will click and it will be alright. I think it’s really important to have other gay friends and people you can talk to. I’m so lucky, I have a few best friends but Jason and Leke – we’re all around the same age and used to go clubbing together, so I’ve always had someone who I could talk to, we’re all going through the same experiences. I feel like if you come out later you’re kinda robbed of that experience. I feel if I didn’t have Jason or Leke or these other gay people growing up, I don’t know if I’d be the same person because they were there for me during hard times. Even going to raves and stuff and being able to dance around other like-minded gay people, I think those are all important parts of growing up gay, and you’re somewhat robbed of those experiences if do it all late.
What fashion pieces can’t you live without?
Adidas tracksuit bottoms, oversized hoodies, a hat for those bummie days (baseball cap), Airforces low or high, any colour and cClean white socks
What can you do without – what should people let go?
This isn’t one particular item but they need to stop watching Rihanna thinking you can do what Rihanna does. And that’s no shade. Rihanna dropped the Work video every chick was out here in a red, gold and green string dress. Now she’s dropped Wild Thoughts every chick is in an off the shoulder number and you hoes could never, lol. Obviously, I get it, but just stop!
I forgot to ask who your fashion Icon is…
Rihanna!! *laughs* obviously, I’m not gonna be out here trying to wear a red, gold and green string vest! I just love that girl. Everyone that knows me knows. When I used to work at ASOS in Buying, I had pictures of her all on my desk. You can’t say a bad word about her. You know how Beyoncé has the Beehive and Rihanna has the Navy? I’m Navy, you can never say anything bad about Rihanna in my presence. I love Rihanna and I think she’s amazing.
Nemar’s come up however candid in parts, you can’t escape the drive and determination of the brother. I’ve noticed a common thread in successful people I’ve been meeting lately, and it’s that they’re proactive and they mind their own business! Live your life and don’t get caught up. I think Nemar’s work ethic, philanthropic attitude and kind spirit will take him far, Good luck to him!
Peep him here @thelordparchment