THIS time last year Zach and Jordan Stenmark were working part-time in a coffee shop to supplement their AFL sports scholarships to Sydney University.
Both brothers were utility players, adept in the backline or as full-forward, and were gaining their start in the game in the AFL's Greater Western Sydney team for under-18s.
But, on Monday, the 19-year-old twins swapped their footy boots for designer duds to open and close the prestigious Calvin Klein collection show as part of Milan Men's Fashion Week.
On the runway ... the Stenmark twins walked for Calvin Klein during Milan Men's Fashion Week and will continue their careers overseas. Photo: Dan Lecca
Jordan opened the show in an alligator skin jersey and trousers and Zach closed it in a slim-fitting black suit, as part of a whirlwind introduction to the world of international modelling that has seen them forgo football careers in favour of catwalks and campaign billboards around the world.
In the nine months since a mate reckoned modelling could prove an easier and more lucrative gig than serving coffee, the duo have been flown to London to meet influential designer Tom Ford, photographed by stellar fashion snapper Bruce Weber and starred in campaigns for brands including Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle.
''It's been amazing,'' the pair's father, Damien Stenmark, said yesterday.
At the sports ground ... Zach, left, and Jordan as teenagers.
''They got an AFL scholarship to Sydney Uni and, in the first semester, they were both working in a coffee shop. A mate of theirs said you could earn a whole lot more money modelling and said he'd take them to a couple of modelling agencies.''
The first one, Vivien's Model Management, signed them on the spot.
''We get potential models walking up our stairs every day of the week and you can pretty quickly form a view about whether you think they'll do well,'' Vivien's general manager, Catherine McGill, said yesterday.
''In their case, not only are they tall and dark and handsome literally, they also have fantastic personalities.''
Two weeks after signing with Vivien's, Ford saw pictures of the Stenmark brothers on the internet and requested a personal meeting.
''We went 'is this true? is this for real?'''Damien Stenmark said.
''They went over to London and he had all these clothes made up for them and they tried on all the clothes. We're waiting to see what happens next but he told them 'you guys have a really good career ahead of you' and from someone like [Tom Ford], you think maybe they do.''
After discussing the issue with their parents, Damien and Susie, at the family home in Mosman, the twins decided to pursue modelling full-time and are now represented by seven agencies around the world including Red Model Management in New York, Nathalie Models in Paris and Premier Model Management in London, as well as Vivien's.
Zach and Jordan each took three turns on the Calvin Klein collection catwalk with fellow Australian male models Joel Meacock and Niklas Kingo doing three and two laps respectively.
Following a shoot yesterday in Milan for edgy men's fashion magazine Hercules, the twins are now in Paris, where they have been cast in shows as part of Paris Men's Fashion Week, which starts today.
Damien Stenmark said the determination and work ethic instilled in his sons through playing football had been a key factor in their success on the global modelling circuit.
''I think it comes through the sport they've played at a high level,'' he said. ''They have a really professional and disciplined approach.''
But unlike athletes, male fashion models earn far less than their female counterparts. ''Some shifts you don't get much at all and others are a whole lot better, but there's definitely a disparity between male and female models,'' he said.
''It's the converse of what was happening in tennis, with the males earning a lot more than the females. But now the females have caught up [in tennis], so it will be interesting to see what happens in the modelling world.''
For now, however, Zach and Jordan are simply enjoying the ride. ''They just really love the hype of the shows and the energy that surrounds them,'' Damien said.
''It's a buzz.''
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