Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Chad Raile

He was the underwear model for Ralph Lauren, the cover boy for Abercrombie and Fitch's 2001 Christmas catalog and is a regular on the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.

But all brawn and no brains doesn't apply to this K-State senior.

Chad Raile, despite his success in modeling, will graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology.

Raile's career began with an ad in the Collegian for a model search in the Kansas City area. He said he didn't expect much.

Suddenly, though, Raile, whose hometown of St. Francis, Kan., has a population of 1,200, was thrown into the world of big-city modeling. A Baltimore-based agency showed interest but with a few conditions.

"I was 200 lbs. and fairly healthy," Raile said. "They wanted me to cut back down to 175 and get tan. I thought I would give it a try."

After laying outside in the sun and regular workouts at the gym, Raile sent Polaroids of his new look to the agency and waited for a call.

In the meantime, the agency for Abercrombie and Fitch came to Baltimore, Raile said.

But by a strike of good luck, the Abercrombie photographer saw Raile's pictures lying on the agent's desk and asked to see a portfolio. There began Raile's career.

The photo shoot for Abercrombie's Christmas catalog was a weeklong job in Lake Placid, N.Y. Raile said he was nervous at first, but was able to quickly figure out what the photographers wanted.

"You don't just stand there and smile. You just relax and have fun," Raile said. "Most of the time they don't tell you how to move. If you're photogenic, you just kind of have it."

Every night, photographers would meet and discuss which models they wanted to keep.

"It was like 'Survivor,'" he said. "They all get together each night. They will probably only use seven guys and that doesn't mean you get into the catalog. They decide, 'did we get all the shots we wanted from this person?' That happens each night. There were two of us that made it the whole week."

But being a part of the catalog also meant adhering to Abercrombie's marketing strategy, which required nude modeling.

"They asked if I was willing to do nudes," Raile said. "I eventually got talked into it, and I agreed to do it. The last three or four days, my shots were in the mountains."

He said sitting in a stream completely naked while 15 people on the set evaluated the photos was uncomfortable at first.

"At first, it was really weird, but after that I got used to it," he said.

It was after his face appeared in the Abercrombie catalog that Raile's career really began to take off. He got an apartment in New York City for the summers and signed on with a New York City agency.

Since then, Raile has modeled for Joe Boxer, Tommy Hilfiger, Cosmo Girl, Cosmopolitan and Macy's Department Store, as well as the cover of an exercise magazine.

His most prestigious job, however, was a one-year contract with Ralph Lauren.

"It's on billboards, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Sports Illustrated," Raile said. "It was pretty exciting. I was the Polo underwear guy for a year."

Raile said that although being a model means a different lifestyle, it hasn't prevented him from being a regular college student.

"I work out at the Rec four times a week," he said. "I am not a freak about it. I am a hog. I will eat anything. I am not afraid to go to McDonalds. I like to go out to Aggieville and the clubs in New York. I just don't do it to the extreme."

During the summer, Raile attends castings every day, where he participates in test shots, usually in his underwear or in the company's clothes. He carries with him a composition card, which includes a head shot and four different looks as well as his height, weight and sizes.

If a company is interested in Raile, they will request his portfolio, which has 8x10 photos of his different jobs.

In addition to finishing college and fostering his modeling career, Raile is trying to break into the world of acting.

"That's where the big bucks are, but that's not why I am doing it," he said.

Raile started acting classes every other day for four hours with an acting coach.

"I had four auditions. I did good, and if you can get call-backs without acting class, that's good," he said. "It got me excited."

His first auditions were with the soap operas: "Days of Our Lives," "All My Children" and "As the World Turns." Although Raile said he is not interested in acting in a soap, the experience helped in his most recent audition for "Hack," a CBS drama on Saturday evenings starring David Morse.

"I came home for July 4, and I was helping with harvest," Raile said. "I was driving the truck and in between trying to memorize my lines."

After three callbacks, Raile made it to the top 10, but was not chosen.

When he graduates this spring, Raile will move to New York City, where he said he hopes to further is acting career and continue modeling. Eventually, though, he would like to claim Hollywood as his home.

"Hollywood tries to throw you in when you are young," he said. "I want to be good at what I do. I try to focus on acting and cross my fingers."

But amidst the bright lights and dreams of a movie-star future, Raile said he has to stay focused on his education as a Hollywood career is not guaranteed.

"I know it won't last forever. This is a job you don't have any control over," he said. "It could end anytime."

Source: Kansas State Collegian November 13, 2003

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