Setting goals for yourself and obtaining them is an amazing feeling. I’ve said before that I created my blog initially to just inspire other men like me of all ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. The moment you start hearing from people all over the world you began to realize that you are truly doing just what you set out to do. I recently met the next interviewee of, “The TALLK”, through social media when he complimented me on my personal style and we chatted back and forth about places to find clothing for tall men. As I checked out his Instagram timeline I realized he had a great style of his own as well, so it was only right to ask him if he would like to be interviewed for, “The TALLK” so I would like to introduce you to my new TALL friend Ben James!!
Name: Ben James
Marital Status: Cohabiting
Occupation: Head of Commercial Strategy & Partnerships, Business Owner & Professional Model
Who is Ben James; tell us a little about yourself?
So, I am a professional model from the UK / business owner, techie & devout traveler. I’m a huge foodie and love traveling the world trying out new bars & restaurants with friends and family. I’m fairly new to the modeling scene & currently transitioning full time from the corporate world as a commercial strategy and operations director for the world’s largest grassroots sports community where I worked with organizations such as The FA, FIFA & UEFA.
When did you take notice of your height or that you were tall? How did your height make you different?
I’d say I knew from the very beginning, I remember as a kid often being told I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of the things that other kids were. One of my earliest memories is being stopped from playing football at school by the teachers and parents because I was so much bigger than the other kids and they were scared that I’d hurt them, but then again in hindsight, I guess I see where they were coming from, I remember starting secondary school at 6 ft & 240lbs so I guess I can understand why the parents didn’t want me tackling their kids on the field.
How often do you get asked questions about your height? What are some of your favorite references to your height?
I get asked about my height almost every time I leave the house, it can be anything from a small remark at a cash register or somebody coming up to me asking me for every detail, like; how tall are you? why are you so tall? how much do you weigh? how much do you bench? what do you eat? It can be pretty exhausting at times. I always try and respond with something comical and keep the conversation light-hearted, I think it’s important to try and be as positive as you can, in almost every situation, even when someone’s making you uncomfortable.
How did your height impact your life differently over the years?
As a kid, I’d say I was probably way too sensitive and often saw the negative sides of being big and tall but as I grew up I realized it’s actually a huge advantage over “average people”. I spend a lot of time in board meetings & networking where my height and build actually give me a distinct advantage over other people, it makes me memorable, more approachable and gives people a reason to talk to me without me having to try. Before modeling, I was a senior commercial strategy and operations director which is a position I managed to achieve at a pretty young age, my height and build are 100% contributing factors to my success because they gave the confidence, audaciousness and natural dominance over my competition to get me there.
What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to shopping?
For me, there are two major challenges:
More and more brands are launching big and tall ranges which are fantastic but what seems to be happening is that the big and tall range is nothing like their main range. You may see a shirt you like in a brand’s main range and think “yup, I’m having that” but then it turns out they don’t make in your size and what you’re actually given is just an oversized t-shirt. The fit often a lot of the big and tall ranges are just box fit. They lack any kind of tapering or finesse, I usually tend to buy a piece I like and take it to get altered to give me the fit I’m looking for.
How would you describe your style?
“Work in progress” before losing 100lbs I literally could not find any stylish clothes to fit so I guess right now I’m finding what works for me. I’m mostly inspired on Instagram by guys like @magicFox, @Kosta Williams & of course @David Beckham.
When putting together an outfit, I always try to dress for either, the occasion, the objective or the environment I’m going to be in. If I’m getting ready for a meeting, for example, I aim to dress like people in the company or I may even go to the extent of checking out who I’m meeting on Instagram in advanced, and dress like the people they follow, sneaky I know, but social media is there to be leveraged.
I love to experiment by blending that classy, smart casual look with some streetwear using brands like Yeezy, Adidas, Nike & pairing them with Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger
What are some brands that you like to wear?
Day to day I’m a big fan of brands like ASOS, ZARA, River Island, American Eagle, Burton, New Look & Jacamo. But for big occasions, I tend to buy brands like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Moss Bros & TM Lewin.
What are your top 5 fashion necessities as a tall guy?
hmm, I’d say as a man in general, it’s important to have these 5 staples in your wardrobe. You can pair them with anything and they work with the core colorways for any occasion.
A formal, well fitted white button-down shirt. Relaxed summer button-down shirt good quality tailored navy chinos, skinny fit black jeans, A pair of leather brogues/loafers. Oh, and a cheeky 6th item would be a classic denim jacket
You’re signed to Bridge Models UK, right? How has that experience been for you?
Working with Bridge is incredible, they’re supportive, insightful, & they constantly offer advice on what I can be doing to increase my chances of landing new clients. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an agent that believes in you and luckily for me, Bridge is exactly that.
How did you initially get into modeling?
It was something I was always told I should go for but never had the confidence to try. I was checking out some of the plus guys on Instagram and just figured “why not”. I had nothing to lose so I began to reach out to agencies via email, sending them my measurements & polaroids and the rest is history.
Describe three of your favorite photo shoots so far?
Let’s start with my first ever test shoot. In my corporate life I’d designed and managed multiple big budget content capture sessions throughout Europe so when it came to directing my own shoot, I threw everything at it. I wanted to make sure I learned as much as possible from it so I made sure we shot at 6 public locations in my hometown at the busiest times of day. Whilst this sounds a bit crazy, the logic was to teach myself how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, the scariest thing about shooting in public isn’t the strangers, it’s the people you know, and taking this kind of “leap of faith” in front of people I knew, was one of the scariest and most rewarding things I could have done at this stage, it built my confidence and made me want to work harder to improve.
Another favorite was my first major brand shoot with Jack & Jones over in Denmark, it’s one of my favorites because it was really relaxed and really creative, we spent the day making each other laugh, talking about soccer & playing around on set to create shots that the client loved.
Another favorite of mine was working with Burtons because this was my first ever campaign shoot where I got to shoot with 2 other guys who were way more experienced than me, it gave me a prime opportunity to learn from the best whilst building relationships with like-minded people who were on the same hustle as me, and that, is one of the most valuable things of all.
What brands have you worked with so far? What brands would you like to work within the future?
Brands so far are ASOS, Burton, Jack & Jones, & Aldi.
I’d love to work with brands like Levi’s, American Eagle, Jacamo, New Look… the list goes on.
What advice would you give aspiring models?
Stick at it. Things don’t happen overnight so keep your energy levels high and be consistent with your test shots, look to connect with as many photographers as possible and work, work, work, it will pay off. In order to stand above the rest, pay for a professional photographer to build your portfolio, I know it can be expensive but the investment is 100% worth it.
What’s your ultimate career goal?
In modeling, my ultimate career goal is to work with high-end fashion brands like Hugo Boss, Armani, Ralph Lauren etc to create a true, big and tall range that is a true reflection of their mainline.
Aside from modeling what else do you do in your spare time?
When I’m not modeling or working on my businesses you will often find me in the gym or on a basketball court somewhere just unwinding and getting a sweat on. Sport & fitness is a huge part of my life and I always turn back to it when I get a chance to step away from the hustle.
I’ve noticed you had a bit of a body transformation as well, what made you change?
My story is a little unique actually, one that I wouldn’t dream of writing as you’d likely get bored after the 5th page but to summarise, like everyone in that position, I was sick of hating myself. Sick and tired of feeling miserable, so I literally woke up one day and thought “F*** it, let’s put this to bed” and got to work in the gym. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun, but it taught me a lot about myself and to anyone reading this who may be in that position, please do reach out and talk if you feel like you want advice on how to get started.
You’ve also spoken out about mental health and how its taboo amongst men, in what ways could this can be changed?
Yeah, especially in the UK, we have this tradition of keeping a “stiff upper lip”. This means to never air your emotions or to express times of difficulty, and it primarily seems to be us men who are abiding. The actions of change here are simple, we just need to talk. I’m not saying we all need to head to a bar and sit holding hands whilst having a cry, I’m saying if you’re going through things, your boys should have your back & you should be able to just say “bro, you know, things haven’t been easy lately”. In the UK alone almost 14 men commit suicide per day and I strongly believe, the vast majority of these could be prevented by just airing your thoughts and knowing you’ve got your boys in your corner fighting with you.
What’s your weekly workout regime?
In order to get the majority of my weight off typically I would do a hell of a lot of cardio, rowing & running, boxing & playing basketball but now I structure my sessions as follows:
Monday: Squat, bench, deadlifts all @5×5
Tuesday: Accessory work and cardio
Wednesday: Squat, Shoulder press, Power cleans all @5×5
Thursday: Accessory work and cardio
Friday: Squat, bench, deadlifts all @5×5
I flip these splits week on week, alternating the deadlift and bench day from twice per week to once per week but always making sure I squat 3 times per week.
Are you a healthy eater consistently, what are some of your favorite meals?
Absolutely, it’s very rare that I eat junk food or takeout. I pride my cooking on taking traditionally indulgent foods and making them healthy, a typical meal choice for me is something like a Risotto, Carbonara or Thai Curry where I replace the high-fat elements with sensible alternatives.
1. Cardio or Weights?
2. Night Owl or Early Bird?
3. Nike or Adidas?
Nike for the gym Adidas for streetwear
4. Favorite sports?
Soccer, Basketball, Rugby.
5. Shoe size?
6. Favorite music?
Hip Hop / R&B
7. iPhone or Android
8. Can you dance?
9. Pick-Up Trucks or SUV’s
10. Favorite place to visit?
New York or Biarritz
Where can the readers find you on social media and etc?
You can find me on Instagram using ben_jjames & I’m currently looking at starting a youtube channel so if anybody wants to collab or has topics they’d like to see discussed then reach out Instagram and
What’s next for Ben James?
Summer is traditionally a quiet time for plus guys so now that we’re moving towards A/W18 I’m hoping to continue to pick up more modeling work but in the long run I’m considering venturing into acting whilst scaling my digital agency on the side. Whilst modeling is a passion of mine I will always be a businessman at heart and will always be looking to scale up any ventures I work on.