At Bucknell, you're accountable to each other. It's the same in the fashion industry."
Ranked No. 5 on Forbes' list of "The World's Most Successful Male Models in 2009," Garrett Neff ’07 continues to conquer an industry traditionally dominated by newcomers and has maintained his top-10 status on models.com's "Money Guys" for the better part of a decade.
Featured in campaigns for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Banana Republic and H&M, to name a few, Neff was discovered in college. While returning from a Bucknell trip to Barbados with Professor of Economics Winston Griffith in 2005, Neff was approached by a professional male model, who suggested he consider visiting an agency in New York. After some encouragement from a family friend and photographer, he sent photographs to the agency, which led to a meeting and a contract that same day.
Neff has traversed the globe as a model, working with world-renowned photographers and designers. While many photo shoots are glamorous, he recalls a particularly challenging shoot in Alaska for Saks 5th Avenue: "We were on this small research vessel, surrounded by glaciers for a few days. You couldn't tell how huge they were until you pulled up beside one. What looked like a cliff from a distance became the size of a 30-story building up close. A large piece broke off and we heard a loud boom as it hit the water. Waves were hitting us pretty hard and poured over the bow and onto the photographer's computer and hard drives, ruining the gear, but luckily the images were backed up and he had spares of all the equipment."
Neff's not just another handsome face, he's also a savvy businessman. He's been asked to write for various publications, gives regular interviews and is launching a swimwear line and his own website, garrettneff.com. He's also done a bit of acting, with a cameo as a young Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock in 2010. He recently changed agencies and is now with IMG. The company recently merged with William Morris Endeavor to create an agency of models, actors and athletes, which broadens his career options.
Neff credits the University's strong sense of community as a factor in his success. "At Bucknell, you're accountable to each other. It's the same in the fashion industry. Reputation spreads fast, so your work ethic and creative input is just as important as your looks." A varsity athlete, Neff has always been committed to staying fit. He says the rigor of Division 1 tennis set the standard for habits that ensure his success in an industry where his physical appearance is his bread and butter.
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