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Zach Miko the first plus-size male model IMG
Zach Miko, the first plus-size male model to be signed to IMGvia imgmodels.com

IMG Models opens plus-size men’s division

The move marks a landmark moment for size diversity in the world of male modelling

One of fashion’s biggest modelling agencies, IMG Models, has opened a ‘plus-size’ division entitled ‘Brawn’ – marking a major step forward in terms of representing diversity within the menswear industry.

2015 was a pivotal year for body-positivity within the womenswear industry – with social media campaigns like #DropThePlus and breakout plus-size female models like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham – but, by and large, men have been left out of this size diversity conversation. 

Currently, the ‘Brawn’ division only has one model on its books, actor and comedian Zach Miko, who last year attracted attention when he modelled Target’s ‘Big and Tall’ range. Although he was one of many male models cast, Miko was the only man that seemed to fit the range’s actual description. Standing at over six-foot tall with a 40-inch waist, he represents a group of men that have long been excluded from the high-fashion industry. 

In fact, despite reports estimating that the national average waist size for men is 35 inches, many high-street chains often lack larger sizes. Back in January, style blogger Kelvin (of Notoriously Dapper) spoke to Dazed about the difficulties he faced buying from within a “fashion industry that doesn’t cater to bigger men”, admitting that he often had to pay for personal tailoring in order to get clothes that fit properly.

Speaking to WWD, IMG Models’ president Ivan Bart explained the intentions behind both the new division and its branding; “size diversity is something that’s relevant and continues to be on everybody’s mind. We have to extend the conversation for men.” Bart later stated that he wanted the average man to be able to look at Miko and believe that they, too, could make it as a model.

However, branding seems to play a key part in the new division, with IMG steering clear of the plus-size moniker. “Brawn has a body positive message. Brawn is physical strength.” Regardless of its title, this new division finally acknowledges that body-positive role models are needed beyond womenswear.

But it’s not the first time IMG have proved it’s at the forefront of fashion’s attitudes towards diversity. Last year, the agency signed trans model-slash-actress Hari Nef and blogger Jillian Mercado (a wheelchair user with muscular dystrophy).