As an Oregonian, I think it's about time he got his own thread! Hailing from Shady Cove, Oregon, this guy has a fantastic career ahead of him! First signed by IMD Models & Entertainment in Medford, OR, he was named first runner-up Male Model of the Year at the 2006 International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) Conference in Los Angeles. He was also included in MDC's top runway newcomers of SS08 and is currently ranked #46 on MDC's Top 50 Male Models.
Hair: Light Brown
Agencies: IMD (Mother Agency), Major Model Management, View Management (Barcelona)
Last edited by Atelier; 28-11-2007 at 11:10 PM.
SS08: Men Part 2 “Top Newcomers”
Boys, Fashion Week, Model News, Top 10 Newcomers July 20th, 2007, by betty
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
SS08: Top 10 Runway Newcomers (alphabetical order)
If the runways are the filters for the next generation of blue chip male models, then there are 10 fresh new faces who hold the promise of tomorrow. Though several of these models have held show exclusives before, SS08 was clearly their breakout moment.
Adrian (Ford NY, Ford Europe, photo courtesy of 2pm Denmark)
Blaine Cook (Major- NY)
Cole Mohr (Request-NY)
Julien Sabaud (VNY-NY, Ford Europe)
Mikhail Severe (NY Models-NY)
Nicholas Chabot (IMG-NY, Success-Paris)
Sean Harju (Major-NY )
Taylor Fuchs (IMG-NY, Success-Paris)
Tom Warren (Ford-NY, photo courtesy of Models 1-London)
Trent Kendrick (Red-NY)
We especially love Blaine, Julien, Tom and Trent as former MDC MOTW’s.
Sean Harju MAJOR(NY)
Shady Cove's Sean Harju, 18, is living a life he describes as a “joy to the world whirlwind” as a rising star among male models. (Mail Tribune / Jim Craven)
Shady Cove resident is an internationally sought model
By JENNIFER STRANGE
for the Mail Tribune
One day you're a regular guy, wearing the usual uniform of baggy jeans and tank top, playing sports, minding your own business around the schoolyard. The next you're hopping a red-eye to New York City, posing for famed photographers and generally living a life of high-fashion fabulousness.
Although it didn't happen quite that quickly, Sean Harju's meteoric rise from 2005 graduating senior at Prospect High School to internationally sought male model in just one year has been what he calls a "joy to the world whirlwind."
"Life's too short, and there's a lot to experience," says the clean-cut 18-year-old from Shady Cove. "That's one thing I've learned from this, so I'm going with the flow, just trying to be myself and I'll stay with it as long as it's working out."
From his handsome and very stylish six-page spread in May's GQ magazine to his upcoming exclusive contract with Calvin Klein for a show in Milan, Harju certainly seems to embody what his fishing-oriented T-shirt states: "I'm a catch."
And the fashion industry agrees. "It's amazing what has happened," says Teresa Pollman, president of IMD Models & Entertainment in Medford, who has been working with Sean since her company discovered him last year. "For a new face to be booking shows like this is unheard of, it's phenomenal."
Harju's compelling physique combined with his natural modesty, self-assurance and an obvious streak of bright-eyed intelligence has opened doors that usually remain locked until a model has pounded the pavement for several years.
"He's just such a nice kid that everyone wants to work with him," Pollman says. "And he has a look that's very in right now — clean-cut, like a Prada model, with great features and amazing eyes; these crisp clear blue eyes that connect with the viewer."
The eyes were what first caught the attention of IMD Agency Director Cole Valenciano. While teaching three of the five members of Harju's senior class how to prepare for job interviews, Valenciano noticed the young man's comportment and cleverness.
"He had a really cool look with interesting, strong facial features and big blue eyes — kind of angelic," Valenciano says. Chuckling at Harju's answers to IMD's student survey, Valenciano knew he had met someone with potential.
Back at the office, Valenciano shared his discovery with Pollman. A photo shoot was scheduled, and the pages of Harju's portfolio started to fill up. After a series of IMD-sponsored auditions, Pollman selected Harju to attend the 2006 International Modeling and Talent Association conference in Los Angeles.
"It's basically like the Olympics of modeling and acting," Pollman says. "And the attention Sean received there was immense — he won first runner-up Male Model of the Year."
Harju's extraordinary success spurred Pollman to send him to Fashion Week in New York City, a stop on the annual international fashion industry circuit where designers showcase their up-and-coming lines.
"It was a real roll of the dice since he's a new face," she says. "But right away he booked two shows through the agency that we placed him with."
Pollman and Valenciano were careful about choosing an agency for Harju. They wanted an organization that was big enough to be a player, but small enough so that he wouldn't get lost in the shuffle of the fashion industry. Major Model Management in New York City was the answer and has performed fantastically, says Pollman.
"When Karl Lagerfeld booked Sean at Fashion Week, that was the turning point," Pollman says. "Lagerfeld's the number one designer in Europe and that he was coming to America for Fashion Week was a huge deal. The fact that Sean booked him made everyone else want to know 'Who's that guy? Who's that guy?' "
"Bam, bam, bam" is how Harju's career has proceeded since. Bookings with American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch and Dolce & Gabbana, followed by a modeling coup — being photographed for Arena, Europe's premier modeling magazine, at the home of Donnatella Versace in Milan — have kept him hopping.
"He's doing everything — every day there's something exciting," Pollman says. Pollman has even received e-mails from photographers touting Harju's amiable attitude and instinctive talent.
His life "before"
Having moved to Shady Cove from Pendleton when he was 6, Harju grew up a country boy with an affinity for nature and sports.
"I was really into basketball, wrestling, football, golf, street hockey and I used to Rollerblade, ride BMX and skateboard," he says. "And I pretty much swam the river every day."
So that's how the strapping young man cultivated his physical gifts. To keep his mind just as supple and well-formed, Harju was into working and learning. On weekends, he worked at Two Pines Smokehouse in Shady Cove as a prep cook. During the school week, science classes were especially interesting to the boy whose mother calls him "an exceptional student." Harju was so inspired, in fact, by one of his teachers that he decided to pursue an academic future in the sciences.
As a high school senior, he applied and got accepted to the prestigious Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa, Okla.
"I was going to leave last October, but all this happened," he says. After hearing the tale of his burgeoning modeling career, the school agreed to honor Harju's application for five more years.
Knowing her son could handle the pressure of the big city and the modeling industry, Jill Harju encouraged him to branch out.
"I told him he had to do it if he wanted to," she says. "I don't want him to have any regrets, but I think he misses the trees and mountains. He once left me a message saying 'Send me a jar of fresh air.' "
A day in the life now
"It feels like a summer vacation to me," says Harju of living in an agency-organized "model apartment" on New York City's Park Avenue with an ever-rotating group of guys from around the world. "I wake up at 9:30, call into the agency to see if I've got any castings. If I do, I grab my skateboard and head to the photographer; if I don't, I go back to sleep."
With a skateboard as his main mode of transportation, Harju has learned to navigate the Big Apple, careening his way to an average of two or three castings a day. Similar to an acting audition, a casting consists of meeting a photographer, showing him or her a portfolio and having a few Polaroid shots taken.
"It's like job interview," Harju says. "If they like your look, they call you and set something up with the agency."
Usually dressed in a contemporarily urban outfit of semi-fitted jeans and trendy T-shirt, Harju says he prefers putting forth a casual attitude.
"I found out it's best to be yourself and not dressed in a suit that's uncomfortable," he says. "I just think to myself, 'I'm just here to see what happens.' "
After his castings or if he's got a free day, Harju — who is by nature a bit shy and reserved — searches for balance in a social and high-stress industry.
"If I'm not skateboarding in Union Square or playing hackeysack, I sit at home, ponder a lot, read a murder mystery or watch TV," he says. "I also go to Barnes & Noble a lot, where I read magazines and just hang out."
What about all those glamorous openings, parties and afterparties we all watch on cable? You probably won't find Harju anywhere in sight.
"A bunch of people dancing around getting drunk just isn't my atmosphere," he says. "I went to one party — just one — it was the major party at the agency. I made my appearance and left."
Harju's mother beams at her son, content in the knowledge that she raised a well-mannered, well-adjusted and well-meaning person. "You see why I didn't have to worry about sending him away?" she asks proudly.
Harju credits his blossoming modeling career for a new-found maturity and a broader outlook on life.
"I was a shy, shy person before, and unless I knew you, I didn't really talk to you," he says. "Now I'm much more open and I want to experience everything I can."
Remaining professional and productive is always at the top of Harju's job description. Although most people think models are handled with kid gloves and treated like royalty, Harju says in reality it's a complex undertaking.
"You're running your own business," he explains. "There are expenses, an account and an agency that you pay to deal with things." Out of his paychecks come Polaroid and postage costs as well as cuts to all who represent him, including IMD, Harju says.
But if Harju applies his smarts to his current and future earnings as a model, he might make out very well indeed, says Pollman. Although his "editorial" shoots — like the spreads in GQ and Arena magazines — include expenses and travel, they don't have significant dollar signs attached to them. They are, however, the vehicle to what Pollman calls the "money jobs."
"They're about getting him known, getting the visibility," Pollman says. "The things that pay are the sales campaigns like catalog shoots for Ambercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle and other products." Harju earns from $1,500 to $2,500 for about a four-hour "money job" shoot.
If all goes as planned, Pollman expects that Harju can bring in enough earnings in the next year or two to "completely set him up for his young adulthood."
While he's got one strategic and financial eye on saving for college, Harju's immediate scope is slightly more global. Having never before traveled outside Oregon, he has gotten a taste of the bigger world. Italy, he says, was interesting, but it's Asia that really piques his curiosity.
"I want to go to Tokyo really bad — I love the Asian culture, Kung Fu movies, everything about it," he says. And so Teresa Pollman and Cole Valenciano, the two scouts who discovered him, are working to make his dreams of travel come true. By the end of summer, Pollman expects that Harju will be spending the western industry's "down time" in Japan, where things will just be heating up.
If this all sounds like a dream come true for a shy 18-year-old guy from Shady Cove, it's well-earned, say his fans.
"There are just these kids you work for and focus a lot of attention on, and Sean is like that," says Valenciano. "He's got a great family, he's really nice and is appreciative."