Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Brad Kroenig

WITHOUT a doubt, he's one of the most sought-after models in the world.

He's worked with Karl Lagerfeld in the south of France. He's posed for Tommy Hilfiger ads, Fendi billboards and Roberto Cavalli campaigns, and has steamed up the covers of dozens of magazines -- mostly in Europe.Sitting leisurely in a white T-shirt, Christian Dior blue jeans and black leather Dior running shoes in his parents' living room in Oakville, Brad Kroenig looks charming.

Maybe it's his thick, sun-drenched blond ringlets and taut, rail-thin frame. Or perhaps that restrained smile and prominent after-five shadow giving him a handsome ruggedness.

Whatever the appeal, it has brought the 24-year-old model superstardom and a super bankroll.

That is evident by the dozens of magazines spilling over the coffee table at his parents' house.

Although he began his modeling career no more than two years ago, Kroenig now commands $30,000 to $45,000 for photo shoots.

Tapped by the prestigious Ford Models Inc. agency in 2001 while he was in Miami on a soccer scholarship at Florida International University, Kroenig took up residence in the Big Apple shortly thereafter and hasn't had much time to look back since.

Agent Sam Doerfler says Kroenig's first year with the agency focused mostly on "growing the hair out" and "losing the weight and developing the portfolio."

"Technically, he's new," Doerfler explains, adding, "As a model, he will definitely be huge. He's a top model, on the cusp."

Stephen Gan, creative director for Harper's Bazaar magazine and editor in chief of V and V-man magazines, says, "Certainly, I think Brad Kroenig is the next big thing. And I think that when you think of male models right now, there's no one else in the forefront as much as he is."

Kroenig has been featured on the covers of Italian Vogue and London's Loaded Magazine, as well as V and V-Man. And he strikes a series of sizzling poses with veteran supermodel Gisele Bundchen in a 12-page spread in the November issue of Harper's Bazaar.

"Kroenig has the uncommon ability to go from an All-American college-jock golden boy look one minute to a cutting-edge, avant-garde rock star the next," Gan adds. "He has a brave and modern outlook on men's fashion. All those qualities, believe it or not, don't often come in one package when it comes to male models."

Always on the go, Kroenig rarely spends time in the quiet neighborhood that his parents call home.

But when his schedule permits, he likes to hang out with friends. And while he sometimes dates "model girls," he says he mostly just goes out with girls he grew up knowing.

Barb and Mark Kroenig have adjusted to being empty-nesters times three. Brad commutes between St. Louis and his one-bedroom apartment in New York (although he has commissioned work to begin on a two-bedroom/two-story glass loft in Miami Beach); their daughter, Julie Kroenig, 22, works as a television reporter in West Virginia; and son Matt Kroenig, 26, is a doctoral candidate at the University of California-Berkeley.

Brad isn't the family's first model. Both his sister and brother modeled as children. And even mom did a couple of fashion shows in her hometown of Tuscola, Ill., during her youth.

But Brad is the first to make it big.

This past summer, when Kroenig found out that he was being featured on the cover of Italian Vogue, he bought some copies of the magazine. On the cover of one, he wrote an inscription to his parents: "Mom & Dad, Would never have been here if it wasn't for you two..."

Even though highlights of his early life took place on the soccer field, Kroenig has easily adjusted to life as a supermodel.

Often he darts back and forth between London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles, not to mention Bora Bora and other exotic locales. "I feel like I'm supposed to be there," he says of these places.

Some of Kroenig's assignments have teetered on the risque, such as when he posed partially nude for the 2002 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

"It was fine," he says of one of his first assignments. But he admits that his mother choked a bit when she saw it.

"I think she said something like, 'You can't show those to Grandma.' But now she is used to them," he says.

His mother remembers that day. "When I showed it to people, I showed them every picture except those," she recalls. "It's still kind of hard to take as a mother."

While Kroenig is a hot commodity now, it wasn't always that way. His first ad job for Cosmopolitan magazine, he said, brought in only $150.

His look appears tousled and effortless, but Kroenig works at it. He never colors his hair, but does get a tan once a week. He runs five miles four times a week. And, he adds, "I watch what I eat. I stay thin and eat right. And no carbs."

Right now, Kroenig says he's doing exactly what he wants to be doing, burning up the modeling scene. "I always like it," he says of his job. "I do even more now."

His ultimate goal? "To continue to be a model. As long as they keep paying me, I'll do it," he says.

And if it doesn't work out? Kroenig doesn't waste energy on such thoughts. "Right now, it can't fall through. It'll go for a while," he says. "People track me down. Now we turn down jobs."

Nevertheless, his future goals include getting more involved with real estate.

His advice for others trying to make it in the business? "Go to a big city, like New York. Go to a top agency, like Ford Models Inc." he says.

Barb Kroenig says her middle child has always been a "personable person."

And better yet, she says, he never forgets where his heart is. "Every day, no matter where Brad is, he calls home," she says.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 22, 2003