Joey Slomoitz has a love for life, but not just his own. A born thrill-seeker, he's been utilizing his modeling career to see the world. But there's more to Joey than enviable abs, an Australian accent and a chiseled jawline. Mr. Slomowitz is a passionate animal and social justice advocate, a parkour and surfing enthusiast and musician, and an optimist when it comes to the fashion industry. I asked Joey about his life, his career and to share some advice.
Joshua Katcher: Were you "discovered" or did you pursue modeling? If so, why?
Joey Slomowitz: I was actually discovered when I was seventeen at a performing arts competition in my hometown in Sydney, Australia. At first I thought modeling seemed silly and a ridiculous pursuit for me, but I eventually decided to give it a go. I started to enjoy it after my first few jobs and became more interested later on after finding out about the opportunity for travel.
JK: How did you come to veganism and what's it like being vegan in the fashion industry? Are they compatible?
JS: I remember removing red meat from my diet when I was seventeen after having a phone conversation with a friend about trying to eliminate heavy foods and improving overall health. Eventually we came to have a similar discussion about milk and eliminated that too. Gradually, as our overall knowledge of health and nutrition improved, the last thing we were eating was fish. Then when I was twenty, I watched “Earthlings” narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. At this point I gained so much knowledge about the moral and ethical side of consuming; with food, clothing as well as entertainment and consumer goods that I chose to go vegan all the way.
I do believe being a vegan in the modeling industry is a compatible matchup. Even with the challenge of rejecting jobs where fur is used and at times, having to compromise on wearing leather and wool products, I personally believe there is always the possibility to influence those around me and make a difference in the minds of people creating the designs and setting the trends. I believe being a vegan model is something bigger; it’s the responsibility of being a role model.
JK: Have you ever refused to wear something, or walked off a shoot? Why?
JS: I have always refused to wear fur for jobs in the past. Fortunately I haven’t had to walk off from previous jobs as my outfit was able to be switched out. I’ve seen the horrible processes undertaken in manufacturing fur and I could not possibly stand to promote this by wearing anything made with it.
JK: What would you change about the fashion industry if you could?
JS: I would of course want every designer to make their clothing without sourcing any animal products. What most people don’t realise is that manufacturing animal products (furs, wools and leathers) as a textile is completely hazardous to the environment and that there is nothing ‘natural’ about them. In fact, furs and leathers in particular need to be dipped into a pool of chemicals in order to prevent them from rotting away. As a result, ground water surrounding these manufacturing sites becomes completely polluted and results in health problems for residents located in the area.
I would want to encourage designers to take the approach of creating lifetime products as opposed to fast fashion apparel. I would encourage designers to value the use of recycled materials in their products and reduce their ecological footprint. On top of that, I would want designers to opt for having their products only made in manufacturing facilities that are local, pay fair wages to their workers and provide fair working conditions. In time, I would hope that all manufacturing facilities around the world are raised to an agreed international standard for fair conditions and pay.
JK: How do you internalize the idea that society views your physical body and face as ideal? How do people treat you because you're good-looking?
JS: If someone tells me I’m handsome, I usually contort my face in the weirdest way I can and say ‘thank you!’. A good sense of humour is often the best start. Otherwise, I don’t think that I am necessarily the ‘ideal’ in physical features. No-one’s perfect. I’m usually too big for the clothing they give me. My understanding is that companies want to use people of different and interesting features to sell their goods. I guess people with elongated limbs such as myself are a good fit.
JK: I've seen you doing back flips and parkour. How else do you stay strong and healthy?
JS: I exercise every day and eat as well as I can. Often beginning the day with an intense ten minute core routine, I always follow up with a healthy bowl of porridge (oats or buckwheat) and a cup of tea. Throughout the day I eat plenty of fruit and veggies and snack on nuts and seeds whilst also trying to eat as many leafy greens as I can. One of my best discoveries last year was hemp seed. Hemp seed has all the essential amino acids and contains up to 30 grams of protein per 100 grams. Rice and beans or rice and lentils are also a staple for me. I also make sure to try out different exercise classes and different workout groups. At the moment, the cold winter has lead me to start taking yoga classes on a daily basis. During the summer however, I was helping to lead group workout sessions for free in the park. I’ve also recently fallen in love with surfing, but that will have to wait until I can find some warm weather.
JK: Books, music and art. What is inspiring you right now?
JS: I recently read “Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida; a great book about understanding the polarity between masculine and feminine energies, as well as owning your masculinity and living your best life.
I play guitar and sing so am often looking for artists whose songs I can study that will take me to the next level of skill and playing ability. The start of last year, I was obsessed with learning songs by the Beatles. Right now I’m studying John Mayer.
A couple of months ago I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was inspired by an amazing mural by Thomas Hart Benton. The mural portrayed scenes of American workers from the 1930s industrial era. There are so many things about that period that I find timeless.
JK: Have you acquired a sense of style since working in fashion? What fashion tips do you have for other guys who may not have been dressed by many stylists?
JS: A couple of year ago, I met a stylist here in New York that introduced to me an aesthetic of menswear which I found has remained constant throughout time. To me it meant acquiring some great one time purchase pieces that are designed to last a lifetime. This included items such as raw Japanese denim, a good pair of vegan boots and some cool vintage men’s workwear. I’m definitely inspired by men’s workwear from the introduction of denim jeans in the late 1800s right up until the 1970s. This lines up perfectly with my aesthetic.
I think most people have an idea of how they want to dress, but they’re far too influenced by the marketing of chains that make clothing for the masses. I would say keep in mind what appeals to you and go check out the vintage shops as well as the thrift shops. Shopping around this way, there is always something for everyone and it will be far more individual. You’ll also be recycling and reducing your ecological footprint by not buying anything new.
JK: What must we all try?
JS: Firstly, I think everyone should try a plant based diet after reading up on how to do it properly and all the amazing benefits. If done right, it’s the most amazing and progressive thing we could do for our bodies as well as the ecosystems and the environment.
Someone wise once told me “you will only regret the things in life that you didn’t do”. I’m a big advocate of doing things where there is an incredible sense of adventure. I recently went to Hawaii and had an incredible experience on a dangerous 3 peak mountain hike in Oahu. We should always try things we really want to do that we are also afraid of.