The Bartel twins take part in the “Gucci Twinsburg” fashion show in Italy

Twinsburg twins Jack and Nate Bartel walked the runway in Italy on Saturday, super-modeling as two red disco balls for a Gucci fashion designer inspired by the symmetrical canvases of – you guessed it – twins.

But how an identical pair of 18-year-old student-athletes from Twinsburg with no modeling interest or experience ended up strutting for one of the world’s most prestigious fashion companies in Milan, Italy, is something. something their computer programming mother and electrical engineering father could not have foreseen in their wildest imaginations.

“NO,” said Laura Bartel, the twins’ mother. “That’s a big uh-uh.”

The local family got an unexpected, rare and unvarnished glimpse into the glamorous, choreographed, “brutal” and “sliced” world of international modeling, a whirlwind once-in-a-lifetime experience that left the young men anticipating their faces on the covers of international fashion magazines as they scramble to catch up on college homework they missed while “fleeing reality” abroad.

“Honestly, it couldn’t have been more random. It couldn’t have been more accidental,” Laura said on Sunday. “But, you know, they absolutely loved it. They enjoyed every minute. But it’s not something we would have ever considered before.

“They were pulled out of the dark.”

Twinsburg brothers Jack, left, and Nate Bartel take a selfie at the Gucci Twinsburg fashion show on Friday in Milan, Italy.

‘It was so crazy,’ twin says of modeling in Italy

The town of Twinsburg featured prominently in Italian fashion designer and creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele”Gucci Twinsburgfashion show in Milan on Saturday. In a promotional video on social media, the twins from the show stood in front of a backdrop image of Twinsburg City Hall with the sign behind them reading “Welcome to Twinsburg.”

The fashion firm’s scouts had to photograph the public building in Twinsburg as they searched for models in August during the Twins Days Festival, Laura Bartel explained. His boys, who led the Twinsburg High School swim team before graduating this year, weren’t hard to spot because grand marshals at the annual parade.

Twin Days Festival:The twins have a blast during a parade at the festival, themed “Welcome 2 the Jungle”

“It was so crazy how it happened,” Jack said, speaking to a reporter on Sunday from a study room at the University of Cincinnati library, where he’s trying to catch up on his homework. academics sidelined by his unexpected modeling adventure.

“We were right by the side of the road,” Jack said of Twins Days. “Someone came to us asking if we would like to participate in a project in Europe. It was very vague.”

The woman took their photo and noted their Instagram handles and phone numbers on the back of the Polaroid. “She took our headshots, and that was the end of it,” said Jack, who thought he and his brother had just entered a coin toss contest.

Twinsburg twins Jack and Nate Bartel took part in a Gucci fashion show on Saturday in Milan, Italy.

They didn’t think about it again until a call on September 5 about something that looked like fraud. The caller wanted his passport information to house him for a week in Europe.

“It was in Milan, the caller said. They couldn’t give me specifics. So I was asking a lot of questions,” Jack said. “It looked like a scam.”

“Come to Italy. All expenses paid. Too good to be true. Isn’t it?” Jack called back.

He and his brother pondered their options, weighing the risk against an unknown reward. With time running out, they rolled the dice and phoned their passport numbers on a Wednesday. That Saturday, their flight landed in Italy. They left the airport at 9 a.m. for a casting call at the Gucci hub at 9:30 a.m.

“It was so rushed,” Jack said.

“There is no chance” of being chosen as a model for Gucci, thought the twins

In the sweatpants they wore on the plane, the brothers were one of only three sets of American models in a room of 120 pairs of twins, most of them tall, thin and “dressed to four legs, like they were going to a wedding,” Jack said.

“There’s no way,” Jack thought of the competition. “We’re going home tomorrow.”

They lined up and, for the first time, marched side by side on a catwalk. Called back for a second passage, the crew members put on their suits.

After the second run, Michele called them and only them. The Gucci fashion guru wanted to know who they were, where they came from, the Bartels said. The twins explained Twinsburg and Twins Days.

“My brother said, ‘Sorry, I didn’t catch your name,'” Jack said. “Everyone around us laughed.”

A pregnant break followed as models and Gucci staff were stunned by the ignorance of two ordinary people. The twins suddenly realized the stature of the man in front of them. And Michele realized he was talking to two Americans who had never thought of a parade, let alone practiced one.

“We kind of grounded it there,” Jack said.

Twins Jack and Nate Bartel, Twinsburg High class of 2022, parade in Italy on Saturday in a Gucci show.

After this hearing, half of the twins summoned to Milan were sent home.

“The twins that cut themselves, some people knew about it 15 minutes before their car left for the airport,” Jack said. “It’s rough.”

The Bartel brothers stayed eight days at upscale Starhotels Milan, where security guards discouraged more than 100 models and their twin-themed fashion show’s secret from leaving and fleeing into the press or others fashion agencies.

Twinsburg models and manager stay humble

The brothers spent 12 hours a day wearing makeup. Gucci staff treated the models like products, directing their questions to their agents. The teenagers had none. So they dubbed Laura Bartel their “mom-ager” — a playful mix of mom and manager.

“Everyone had an agent,” Laura said. “I had no idea. It was so new.

“Can we dye their hair? Laura said Gucci staff would ask her on the phone.

“Go ask the boys, I don’t care,” she replied.

Twinsburg brothers Jack, left, and Nate Bartel pose in their red disco ball costumes for a selfie with other models before walking the runway at the Gucci Twinsburg fashion show in Milan, Italy on Friday.

Laura’s humble sons have a self-deprecating mother. When Gucci let the cat out of the bag by posting on Thursday that the surprise fashion show would take place on Friday, Laura shared the website link on Facebook and explained that her sons would be among the models.

“I’m pretty sure as a class superlative I would have been voted ‘least likely to produce a role model,'” Laura wrote, punctuating the joke with a laughing emoji.

Showtime arrives for the Twinsburg twins in the Gucci fashion show

The next morning – well, more like the six-time afternoon in Milan – Jack and Nate completed two podium runs. The fifth leg of their life was the show, which they nailed.

Back in Ohio, from Twinsburg to the University of Akron, where Nate is studying computer science and playing on the water polo team, to UC, where Jack is studying cybersecurity and plans to play water -polo this winter, friends and family, teachers and classmates all watched online. Gucci streamed the fashion show in Italy on YouTube at Young Bartels walk at 45:10 seconds.

Twinsburg Schools Superintendent Kathi Powers praised her two recent graduates in a newsletter Sunday. “Jack and Nate, once Tigers, still Tigers,” Powers wrote to families in the district. “We are Tiger proud of you!”

Jack, left, and Nate Bartel led the Twinsburg High School swim team before graduating this year.

After the show, Gucci gifted the Bartels and nine other pairs of model twins to the world of fashion journaling. Mexican and Singaporean media, from trade publications like Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, photographed the small group of models who survived a “cut-throat” week that sent more than 100 veteran models home.

Most of the models were beyond nice, Jack said. And the brothers more than enjoyed the experience.

“All twins who are real models say, you got this job. If you wanted to, you could get a lot more jobs, because Gucci is on top,” Jack said.

But some people were bitter, Jack said, that two amateurs had been thrust into the limelight in a highly competitive career. But Jack and Nate aren’t looking to become models until they’re too old for the job.

Twinsburg brothers Jack, left, and Nate Bartel take a selfie in Milan, Italy, where they took part in a Gucci fashion show on Friday.

The boys received their allowance for a week’s work. Their mother still doesn’t know if she could or should have asked for more.

And they collected a rare experience. Modeling might be something Jack said he would try over winter or summer break. For now, he’s looking for an extra 24 hours in his schedule to catch up on missed college homework as he reflects on the adventure “of a lifetime”.

“That wasn’t the reality,” he said over the phone as he studied in the campus library. “We escaped reality for a week.”

Contact reporter Doug Livingston at or 330-99603792.

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