Wednesday, March 6, 2013


As featured in by Sarah Mower
Billy Reid Men's Casting by JTC Casting
In her Tuesday column about all things stylish and British, Sarah Mower profiles the rugged face that launched a thousand beards in London.
England is being tickled by the subject of beards. The almost-universal male trend for facial hair has found its lightning rod in the ruggedly controversial shape of Johnny Harrington,a guy with a red beard—and a bun!—who has been modeling for John Lewis, a bastion department store of the British high street. The first sight of Harrington sent the tabloids into an ecstasy of disapproval. “He looks like a gingery tramp!” cried the Daily Mail (translation: tramp = hobo). But what the pundits hadn’t reckoned with was an outpouring of counter-ecstasy from Britain’s women. The enthusiasm was only whipped up further once the female population processed the fact that Harrington, a Londoner, is a 32-year-old ex-carpenter. Imagine him walking through your door to fix up your kitchen! Harrington says he only fell into modeling after he injured a hand and couldn’t continue his day job. SighTaking a chance on Harrington’s beardy, wild man-of-the-outdoors look has paid off handsomely. Mark Forsyth, a senior manager at the brand, who cast him for the John Lewis & Co. line (an excellent, accessibly priced collection made from traditional British fabrics the whole country now knows about), wanted someone, he says, who could channel “the spirit of British tradition of exploration and adventure. To pull this off, we needed a model with a rugged, authentic appearance—someone who you really could believe had been on an adventure,” he relates. “The brief we sent out to every modeling agency in London was to find a “viking.” When Johnny walked into the casting, his beard was ten to fourteen inches long, and he had shoulder-length red hair, which we loved.” 
It was, apparently, a big commercial risk, but since the pictures came out on February 21, the reaction has sent shoppers into the store all over the country. “Twitter has been buzzing. There’s a whole lot of love for the beardy redhead,” he says. “And sales have shot up by 250 percent since the coverage started.”

Harrington was not a brand-new John Lewis discovery. He walked in Billy Reid’s show in New York Fashion Week, and Patrick Grant, owner of Savile Row tailor Norton & Sons, used him in a shoot for a collaboration with Barbour that comes out later in the year.
Billy Reid Fall 2013
Photo: David X. Prutting/ of Billy Reid

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