HomeStandard StyleZim model thrives globally

Zim model thrives globally

By Grant Moyo

Cape Town-based Zimbabwe-born international model Victor Mathe takes pride in the hard work he instilled to sustain his booming modelling career.

Having been scouted by Heads Models in 2003 while studying towards an Honours Degree in Political Science at Wits University in South Africa, he has over the years booked big brand campaigns, strutted down runways and been a part of numerous fashion editorials as well as catalogues in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

The seasoned model said he values treating modelling not just as a glamorous career, but as an essential line of duty where building and maintaining healthy respectful relationships with clients and colleagues is a virtue.

Mathe was born and raised in Bulawayo to a Zambian Lozi father and Zimbabwean Ndebele mother of mixed race. He started modelling at the age of 14 and was crowned Mr Teen Zimbabwe in 1999. In 2002 the gifted model relocated to South Africa and began his tertiary studies in 2003, the year in which his professional career in modelling also kick-started.

To date he has strutted down the runway at prestigious events like Africa Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week (Italy), Elle Bangkok Fashion Week (Thailand), South Africa Fashion Week, Cape Town Fashion Week, Johannesburg Fashion Week, Durban Fashion Fair, and Positive Heroes Fashion Week in Sun City which featured celebrated British singer-songwriter Seal.

“When I won a high school pageant, I represented my school nationally at Mr Teen and Miss Teen Zimbabwe. After being crowned Mr Teen, one of the judges, a former top model, came to me and told me about the potential she saw in me,” Mathe said.

“The grooming I got at Fingers Modeling Agency in Bulawayo came in handy as I also shot for Edgars Club magazine. My cousin, a former model, constantly encouraged me to consider modelling as a career, but I wasn’t thinking much of taking it as a profession until I got to South Africa. I was scouted in my first year at Wits University and that was the beginning of my professional career.

“My first modelling job was a big campaign for ‘Sterns Jewellery.’ It immediately set a standard that has been part of my career. For 15 years I was lucky enough to have a headstart into booking big brand campaigns listing Woolworths, Markhams, Edgars, Truworths, L’oreal, Nivea, Pongraz, Mr Price, Colgate, BMW, and Absolute Vodka, among many campaigns I’ve shot in South Africa over the years.

“However, before all the campaigns started rolling, I did a lot of runway, fashion editorials and catalogs in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Milan, London, Hamburg, Tel Aviv, and Paris, among others.”

Mathe has worked with great designers and fashion houses, namely Craig Port (South Africa), Vivienne Westwood (Britain), Sidumiso Tshuma (Zimbabwe), Armani (Italy), Fabiani and Carducci. The seasoned model has shot catalogues for Timberland, Suitsupply, Otto, Tesco, Primark, Massimo Dutti, and United Colors of Benetton, to name but a few. Mathe has also been a regular feature in reputable fashion magazines like GQ South Africa, Men’s Health and Vogue Italia, among many.

“When I shot my first European editorial for Bolero Magazine (Switzerland and Germany), I got to shoot the cover as well, which is such a big win for any model,” he said.

“Above all, the big brands that I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with, shooting in great locations in Zanzibar, Egypt, Bali, and Canary Island was creditable.

“I had the best agencies representing me in South Africa. Besides Heads Models and Ice Models in Johannesburg, in Cape Town I worked with Storm Models, Outlaws Models, Zero Models, Pure Management and Fusion Models.

“Overseas I was represented by Premier models in London, Uno models in Spain, Whynot models in Milan, as well as Chic models in Bangkok and the whole of Asia.”
Mathe added: “Being signed in Europe by the same agent that had supermodels such as David Gandy (English), Sean O’Pry (American) and Simon Nessman (Canadian) in their books was a big game changer for me which brought me tons of respect in my now home base Cape Town and in the industry.

“In that very same year in 2012 I got featured on Cosmopolitan magazine’s Sexiest Men in South Africa calendar (they handpicked 12 successful young men in the entertainment and sports industry every year for their calendar). The calendar came to me as a reminder of how well I had done, at times one gets too busy to sit down and look back on how well they are doing.”

The international model admitted to having learned many lessons throughout his career. He emphasised that keeping good relations and respecting everyone he came across in the industry helped shape his success. The gifted model also acknowledged his efforts and discipline to have contributed to his attainment.
“My motto has been ‘arrive on set to impress, never complain, and do your job the best you can’,” he said.

“Arriving on set on time prepared for whatever I’m shooting and going an extra mile to whatever is asked of me on set has helped me not to be a once-off model with clients.

“Most of my big clients like Woolworths and Markhams used me many times not because there weren’t other models to use, but because of my work ethic.
“People have to enjoy working with you in this industry, from clients to stylists, make-up artists, photographers, directors, lighting crew, and also those women who make tea for everybody on set who never get enough recognition yet they play a big part.

“After all, creatives and personals in the fashion industry come and go, but if there‘s love and respect you last a bit longer. Studios and backstage are always chaotic as everyone is trying to bring up their ‘A’ game, so focus is always important and if there’s one quality I pride myself with in the industry is how hard I work when at work.”

Mathe compared his modelling career to the time he was a house mate on M-Net’s Big Brother Africa 2, the second series of the reality television show Big Brother Africa, produced by Endemol. He said with people constantly watching everything he did, he realised that his career would either grow with every job he is featured on or take a dive.

The gifted model emphasised on the importance of people taking care of themselves, and pointed out grooming, physical exercise, as well as eating healthy as essential to a model’s career.

“I work out as often as I can, I’m also a huge fan of heated yoga which I do three times a week if I don’t get to play tennis. I’m big on a vegetarian-based diet although I’m not vegetarian,” Mathe said.

“It’s also important for men to take care of their skin, good skin is an instant confidence booster.

“Taking good care of yourself, from keeping in shape to updating your look is important, you have to be a chameleon to stay on top as every season comes with new and fresher faces who are preferred by clients.

“To remain as the ‘go-to’ model you have to try to look different in every job you do so that clients don’t get bored with your look.”

With an outstanding career that has set the bar high for local models, Mathe is certain that he still has more to offer in the creative space. While his plans to branch into acting this year have been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, the international model hopes to break into the film industry next year.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading