Oliver Kumbi - Professional Muse

Oliver Kumbi is not your average model. He may travel all over the world, modeling for some of the most respected contemporary designers of our times, but the truth is the Swedish twenty-something is more impressed by an empty basketball court than a star-studded catwalk show. Luckily he’s managed to carve out a life that combines his love of fitness and dedication to the runway. But he almost missed the opportunity.

“At first I said no,” says Oliver, who was approached to model in 2014 after a chance encounter with a talent scout on the street. “I wasn’t interested because the only thing I cared about was basketball. But then she asked me, would I like to travel, see the world, meet new people… And I thought, why not? I’ll try it.”

And was she right? “Yeah, everything has come true,” he reports with a smile. Oliver was transported from his regular life, the majority of which he’d spent focused on playing basketball in Stockholm, Sweden, and into the world of high fashion. In the last eighteen months he’s traveled to every fashion mecca – Milan, Paris, New York, Berlin — and beyond, to walk runways for designers like Lanvin, Hermes, Christophe Lemaire, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Filippa K. So what does he think about modeling so far? “I’ve learned a lot,” he replies simply. “And it’s a lot of fun.”

Raised in Stockholm, Oliver was born to parents who immigrated to Sweden from East Africa. From the age of eight he was never without a basketball, playing with his brothers at first, then for his school teams, and eventually turning pro. Even now, when Oliver is on the road and living out of hotels as often as he is at home, basketball provides a familiar haven. “Every basketball court feels like a home to me,” he says. “I feel free when I’m on the court.”

His life as an athlete is apparent in his work as a model, too. He is disciplined about his fitness, seeking out courts to play on in unfamiliar cities and diligently making time to exercise in hotel weight rooms. In front of the camera his easy-going demeanor transforms into an intense focus that you can feel radiating from his H&M billboards and Nike videos.

“Oliver is one of those models that is almost impossible to find,” says his booking agent Mathias Fåltmarsch. “His personality combined with his flawless [appearance] makes him very rare.”

So what’s the secret? How does he do it? What makes someone have that special je nais se quoi? Oliver shrugs at this. “Just… confidence,” he says. “I believe in myself. I believe in what I do.”

Follow @oliverkumbi on Instagram.

Oliver was an obvious choice for our F/W 16 shoot in Vancouver. Except for being an exceptional and versatile model, he’s a humble and super positive guy. As a former professional basketball player, he also shares our interest for both sports and fashion. Check out some highlights from the photoshoot.