Chase Bash. Don’t you just wish this was your name? A kind of secret agent sounding name way better than 'Bond'. “Being a secret agent would be awesome, I probably don’t have secret agent skills though,” Chase laughs. Igniting a genius idea and handing it to Mr Base, we just released the ultimate boyhood dream.
As Chase Bash at Storm Models slides into the room, his Ohioan twang is apparent. His bronzed hair flops over the symmetrical face acting as a shield of comfort. A deep thinker and pretty transparent, he unravels personal details like we'd known him forever. You quickly learn that Chase finds comfort in turning to creative outlets for self-expression; he draws, skates and now he models. It’s clear that modelling has offered him an illustrious opportunity in life. Providing both a path out of a “dead-out town” and more importantly, a sense of worth and confidence.
We spend some time looking through his sketchbook, revealing his artwork as abstract, intimate and dark at times. Each turning page symbolising his blossoming confidence, he tells stories from his past, stories of his struggles and testing acts in life that have made him feel like “a kind of outsider.” His honesty is brave - breaking down the outdated, conservative ideal that a man shouldn’t talk about his personal battles.
From surrounding cornfields to the inner city, Chase has gone on a distant journey from his Ohio upbringing. At the age of 18, he left behind his small state for the first time and departed on a 12-hour flight to the city of London. A model that sees the good in this industry he has just entered, enabling him to open new chapters, silently laughing at those 13 year old school mates who used to point and laugh. Chase is coy, with a new underlying, endearing confidence. Now sitting on our BBG sofa after having walked in major shows in London, Paris and Milan, we get lost in conversation.
Instant analogue by Cecilie Harris. Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE.
Chase, what a cool name! Chase Bash, it sounds like a crash.
Whaddup. It’s pretty sweet… Yeah, secret agent Chase Bash.
Is it a secret dream of yours to be a secret agent?
That would be awesome! I could have it as a side job in addition to modelling. I probably don’t have secret agent skills though.
I have learned that you have art skills though, because you brought along your sketch book today.
Yeah, I’ve got some skills. I’ve been drawing since I was four or five. I was drawing faces and everything at that age, like my whole family are artistic and I picked it up really really quickly. My mum draws sometimes, my sister is a graphic designer and both my brother and dad can draw as well - I think we're just all artistically inclined.
I see in your sketchbook that you like drawing people. I see naked people.
Yeah, I draw anything, but usually it’s people. I do like to draw a lot of naked people haha. I really don’t know why, I just do it. I make it up as I go along, it’s crazy.
They are definitely interesting pictures, very abstract.
Yeah, sometimes I do abstract. I was feeling really down when I drew that, and as you can tell, it's pretty dark. I was sitting by the window drawing it, so I kinda matched the bit of depression with a little bit of light.
What does this note inside your book mean, I spy the word turkey?
Haha, that’s a note from my girlfriend, it says 'I love you turkey'. My girlfriend calls me turkey and I call her chicken.
Is that an American thing? We're going to start calling you turkey now.
I don’t think so haha. It just makes sense to us. You can call me turkey, that's perfectly fine.
You’re from Ohio in America. What kind of person were you at school?
I was an outsider at school. I had a lot of friends for a long time, and I played football and sports, but I ended up getting really sick in the hospital, so I had to quit and lost all of my friends. That's when I started drawing and expressing myself more in the way that I dress. After that I went back to school and I didn’t have any friends; I was the outsider. I didn’t fit in with anyone and I still don’t fit in there.
What a sad story. How old were you then?
Maybe 13? I was kind of the outsider from being sick and then I got pushed out, so I ended up being home-schooled, because I was sick all the time and catching the flu. I had an auto-immune thing, which suppresses your immune system and you can get sick easily. I kept catching things and having to miss school, so I ended up having to go to court and it sucked. I’m still kind of an outsider in Ohio. I’m from a tiny town just full of cornfields, there’s a cornfield in my backyard.
That sounds beautiful - have you ever been photographed there?
No I haven’t, but that would be really cool. The cornfield in my backyard is really long, I used to play in it when I was growing up. Ohio is alright, I had a lot of fun growing up there but there's not really much to do once you hit a certain age. All I did from my teenage years to now was skateboard and draw, it’s kinda like a dead end town where I’m from.
It sounds like a small community. What would you say are the benefits and the non-benefits from growing up in a small town like Ohio?
I guess it has made me appreciate things like this more, I appreciated my journey to London, Paris and Milan a lot. The downsize to it is probably that there is not a lot to do, I mean our mall has like two good stores. People buy their clothes in Walmart.
Are you wearing Walmart today?
No haha, this is all from here. I do a lot of thrift shopping in London.
We talk to boys from all over the world about growing up, what do you do when there's nothing to do?
Play video games, draw and skate. That’s about it. I guess it challenges your imagination when there’s not really a lot to think about, just cornfields.
Does that make you really peaceful, because you have nothing to think about?
No, I’m actually more peaceful when I’m surrounded by people here, I don’t really like to be alone, because it makes me anxious. It goes back to my teenage years when I didn’t really have a lot of friends.
Do you feel more sociable now at 19?
Yeah, definitely. My journey is fairly recent, I wasn’t really sociable until last year's fashion week. I didn’t talk to anyone until I got here. The only people I spoke to were my parents, my girlfriend and her parents. I wouldn’t talk to casting directors or anything, but as fashion week went on, I became more social, and I really started to enjoy that side of it. Before I came I never wanted to meet anyone, I was scared. Now I'm talking to random strangers on the street, I’m talking to everyone!
Modelling can do a lot for people. You often find that models who were the odd ones out for perhaps looking 'a bit different' and now they are celebrated for being that exact way.
I did used to get picked on a lot. So it’s pretty cool to now say, yeah I went to London and did shows, as well as Milan and Paris. It has given me confidence. When I first came to London, my agents would say I was a nervous wreck all the time!
Your modelling journey has been pretty quick - what shows have you done in these cities?
Yeah it all happened pretty quickly from getting signed in Ohio to being in London with Storm - it all happened in about eight months. I did four shows last year and one this year, I did Kenzo, N° 21
and some others. Being on the catwalk is one of my favourite things, it’s like a rush. My girlfriend models a bit as well, and we always say that when they tap your back to tell you to go it’s the most exhilarating thing. You are just thinking 'this is my time, don’t trip up, don’t step on my own foot.' It feels really quick, I wish it could be longer.
How are you finding the fashion industry in general? It’s quite a different world.
It is, you see all walks of life, it's kinda cool. Where I’m from, everyone's the same, but here everyone is different. I like it because I’m pretty different myself. Coming from a place where you felt like an outsider; I feel like I actually fit in.
Very powerful. I feel like we should end here whilst we are on top, thank you Chase.
Interviewed and Instant analogue by Cecilie Harris.
Introduction by Ede Dugdale.