Phillip Mayberry, 24, was working as a shirtless greeter at a Hollister store in Texas when a scout approached him, as he explained on a cigarette break before the Parke & Ronen show on Wednesday.
A onetime track star with a ripped physique, he was told he would have a great future in modeling, though only if he dropped some weight.
“I’m 6-2, and I was 200 then,” the model said, seeming at ease while clad in nothing but Parke & Ronen underpants. “I lost 30 pounds,” he added, and one result was a job just completed for Italian Vogue. “It wasn’t really that hard. I just count every single calorie.”
Ben Jordan was 18 and on a day trip from his home in Norwich, England, to the Westfield London mall when someone approached him and his father.
He recalled that he didn’t say anything when the scout asked whether he would consider a career in modeling. “My dad just took over and said, ‘Definitely, he would!’” said Mr. Jordan, now 22, who has trod runways covering roughly the circumference of the planet for designers like DSquared2, Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein.
For Harrison Bock, an 18-year-old from Voorhees Township, N.J., the big break came in the gym as he was heading for the showers.
“Is no place sacred?” Mr. Bock was asked.
“Seriously!” the model said backstage at the Parke & Ronen show, making some necessary adjustments to the skintight trunks he had been given to wear. “Until that moment, I never thought about modeling in my life. I was planning to go into the Air Force, for real.”
Gray Eberley, 20, from Tenafly, N.J., was that seeming oddity: a young man who recognized in his exceptional looks a potentially marketable entity.
“A friend of the family knew Bruce Weber, and they sent him some pictures,” Mr. Eberley said Tuesday, as he posed barefoot atop a plinth at Skylight Studios wearing a swimsuit and a flowered rubber granny bathing cap.
Not surprisingly, the photographer responded to Mr. Eberley’s even-featured, all-American looks and invited him to his compound in the Adirondacks. “Next thing I know, I’m in a car heading out Montauk,” where Mr. Weber has a house, and where Mr. Eberley was photographed for a multipage spread in V Man.
Asked about vagaries of a career in a business subject to overnight shifts in taste and where models, however physically blessed, are commodities with inbuilt expiration dates, Mr. Eberley seemed unfazed.
“It’s all good,” he said. “We’ll just see where it goes.”