‘Street Cast’ with a whole different meaning

There Is Hope Models has given the term ‘street cast’ a whole different meaning. One which

is far more life changing than Jordan Dunn browsing Primarni for some cheap knickers or

Gisele scoffing a burger at Maccy D’s. We’re living in a time where fashion bloggers – from

The Made in Chelsea set right up to Susie Bubble – are exploiting the street for their own

gain. It’s great to see fashion finally giving back to some of the individuals who once called it

their home.

In 2016, Kris Solloman McAllister, 28, had been sleeping rough on Oxford Street for a year

and a half. Whizz on three years and you would find Kris wearing thousands of pounds worth

of clothes, strolling down the runway at 180 Strand. It’s no surprise that this was a Bethany

Williams’s show, the only designer who is really successfully merging social initiatives with

a minimal environmental impact - it’s the Bethany blend. Most of the materials she works

with are recycled - from denim to book waste, while every season she works alongside a

different charity, donating a whopping 20% to the cause. Working with TIH models is a

likely fit - all designers should Be More Bethany.

Kris has had a tough life, at the age of 5 he was diagnosed with ADHD and was bullied in

foster care from the age of 9 to 11, until he had a mental breakdown aged 24. “When I first

started modelling, I was very anxious, but at the last Bethany Williams show I had a right

laugh with the other models. I seen Adwoa Aboah a couple of times and she said ‘hello.’

Working in fashion has been an eye-opener. Do you know what I mean?”

Kris first met Bethany in 2016 through Tatjana Hoffmann, 26 the German analogue photographer,

and now founder of TIH Models. “She just kept coming up to me on Oxford Street” he says,

“I was a bit sceptical at first, I thought she was taking the piss or summink.” London is the

homeless capital of the UK with over three thousand people (predominantly young men)

sleeping rough on the streets each night. These individuals are drawn to areas with the

greatest footfall - Mayfair, Soho, Tottenham Court Road. As journalist Ed Stafford’s recent

Channel 4 documentary 60 Days on the Streets highlights, food is not a big problem, but

social interactions are. “I thought why does this person want to know who I am? NORMAL

people don’t just come up to homeless people and say, ‘I’ve got an opportunity for you.’”

Kris says.

Tatjana grew up in Bayreuth, then later moved to Dresden to assist the photographer Jan

Schlegel. It was Tatjana’s background in portrait photography which led her to gravitate to

those in need. “I always found vulnerability beautiful” she says. For the next few years she

was back and forth between Dresden and London, on her first extended visit she worked at a

chippy in Croydon - the glamour! After finishing late and on her days off she would stroll the

city’s streets, speaking to homeless men and women as she wandered.

She returned to London in October 2016 with the intention of setting up her own agency; did

a Prince’s Trust program; declined a lot of job offers and spoke to as many homeless people

as possible. “I used to give them coffee and realised that every story is different, the whole

person is often missed.” She started taking portraits and began to question what the pictures

were for, something was missing, and clothes were the answer.  She began by requesting

sample garments from small brands and this led her to Bethany Williams who cast seven of

the models who Tatjana had met in Berlin and London for her spring / summer 2019 look

book.

The job role that Tatjana has created involves putting herself in danger: “I’ve had many

negative experiences, there is so much drama all the time, it’s been an emotional

rollercoaster.” Many models drop out and some have been drug users, she’s thought about

quitting multiple times but thought “NO, for the models that are here I will always continue.”

Kris and Alex are currently the only models on the books “I realised I couldn’t take

responsibility for seven people while having another job on the side. It’s such a niche,

difficult business.” You can see from how she interacts with Kris that her role is not just the

model agent, the way she looks at him is motherly, she’s a dedicated mentor.

Kris tells me “When you’re homeless you become a bit lazy. Tatjana gave me the confidence

to get off the streets.” He believes that as a child he was “so ugly” but has continually

repeated during our interview that modelling has worked wonders for his self-confidence. “I

can now interact with people better and I managed to sort out housing.” Tatjana agrees “Kris

is now certain of what he wants.”

Kris has moved on from sleeping in the doorways of Oxford Street and now lives in hostel in

Camden. The rent is predominantly covered by housing benefits and he pays a top up of 6

pounds every fortnight for food. “There are a lot of drugs going around, coke, heroin so I

keep myself to myself. I’ve got an addictive personality and it’s easy to find yourself back on

the streets if you fall into the wrong thing.” Kris is keen to stay in modelling and would love

to travel with work, he was recently put up for a job with Kenzo but is still in the process of

getting his passport.

I met Tatjana and Kris in the members club, The House of St Barnabas, which resides at

number 1 Greek Street. A Robin Hood-esque establishment which runs a 6-week program for

those who are homeless or transitioning from homelessness. Kris has recently enrolled. This

programme gives them the opportunity to earn their own money working as bar staff, waiting

staff, receptionists, chefs and occasionally in the office. If more institutions operated in this

philanthropic way, maybe we’d be on route to solving the homeless crisis. There is Hope.

- Trash Magazine

Tatjana Hoffmann Trash Magazine
Tatjana Hoffmann