Shot in Lagos, Nigeria… Creative Direction & Styling by – Ola Photogrpaher – Tope Adenola Model …
PAUSE Meets Ian Connor
Photographer: Sabb Adams
Meet Ian Connor, a creative who has been nothing but himself from the beginning. Moving from Atlanta to New York at the age of 18 and jet-setting across the globe, Ian Connor has been the driving force (& one of the originals) towards today’s youth culture in online media. Now 24, we at PAUSE got a chance to speak with Ian during his time in London about his career and what he actually does, his thoughts on life & death, experiences, and the driving force behind his new brand Revenge.
You’re always constantly jet-setting around the world, (I don’t know how you do it). So what brings you here to London and what do you like about this city?
So it’s kind of like a cliche sh*t. “Oh like, this is my second home.” You know when people say that when they are from a different city. This was literally like my second home when I started living here way back in like 2013-2014, and it’s a secret mission I should say that has been going on for the past 3 to 4 years.
What do you love about London?
At first, it was the culture, before I used to wear skinny jeans and then I started wearing work pants. I feel like people are a lot wittier here, more in touch. There are fake people everywhere don’t get it twisted, but they are more in touch with their fakeness. Put it this way, the way I see it, looking at the inside and outside. I’m not from here so I’m not subjecting to London exactly. I get why I have to be here… I get years worth of work done here in just a few days. I know this is the foundation [London] for me mentally.
Where are you originally from?
From Atlanta. I grew up in Atlanta and then moved to New York when I was 18 years old and that’s when things started happening.
What made you move over to New York from Atlanta?
I knew that’s where I wanted to be, to mentally be right.
In Atlanta were you living with your parents?
Yeah, I lived with my mom. I lived in a suburbs. In my area, no one was fashion forward. I wasn’t fashion forward but I had a different style to everyone else around me. Then in New York, that’s when I actually learned about fashion and how to mix up pieces.
From your career your peak was with Tumblr and then Instagram came along and you kind of blew up, what do you think makes people interested in you?
I’ve always been a ‘wear my heart on my sleeve kind of guy’. What you see is what you get. If I did something, it’s not going to surprise you but it’s probably a big move and you’ll clap your hands. I’m out here with my emotions and my thoughts. I give to the people and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I’m 21 and I’ll be going to Ye’s house and Givenchy parties and everyone is talking about the collection. I’m there asking Ricardo about his models like, “Yeah… I wanna f*ck her.” I’ll always be straight up.
What makes you be so straight up?
Like I said, I can’t be myself when those thoughts are kicking in and I start regretting my choice of words or my actions that I know were fake towards the next person. At the end of the day, It’s all cool then, but it will always hit you, even the fakers know, it always hits them, but they just continue to be fake. Like damn… I feel less of a person so I just have to be straight up.
Do you feel like you’ve thrown yourself into a fake industry?
Of course! Yes.
Before you moved from Atlanta to New York do you think life was fake back then?
In Atlanta, I was young so like what the f*ck was life? You get what I’m saying. What was life? Put it this way; the kids nowadays that are so much into the Gosha and the Supreme, they can turn up at age 24/25 going straight up into accounting wearing business suits every day. Ralph Lauren, dockers.
But they don’t know what they are doing, they are just following people like you.
It doesn’t work out for everyone. So when that frustration kicks in, am I going to stay on my path of doing this and keep doing this for real or just go back to business school?
How did it work for you at the beginning?
It was all I knew. I was homeless, like HOMELESS, bro. But when I started getting 500 or 1000 dollars a week, I didn’t save up and I wasn’t prioritising stuff, thinking about ‘let’s get this apartment’. I was just like ‘let me just go buy more Supreme, sh*ts going to work out eventually’. I will have it to the point where there is no choice for me to have a home.
So is that what you were doing at the beginning, just buying Supreme?
I was buying everything I wanted. I was buying everything, thrifting to Supreme, everything.
Let’s talk about you, you tweeted on the 9th February “I saw the world for what it really was, it jaded me to trust anyone, I feel like everyone is out to get me”. Tell me about your experiences last year.
Its like, I’ve gone throughout the past two to three years in my career of being the star of the show. Like the ‘it boy,’ not to take it away from Luka Sabbat. At the end of the day, Luka is just like me, that’s one of my kid’s bro. He does it to the best. He grew up under me. It’s like being the ‘it boy’ in the scene, of culture in general. The youngest kid in fashion killing it without directly being a designer. I went throughout that. Everyone was like “Oh Ian this or that” but when shit goes down or whatever, it’s like who was really around? Who is genuinely around? That’s where politics come into play.
Everyone wants to be your friend but when something real in life starts happening who is going to be around for you?
If you want to be someone, you have to be them through the ins and outs, it ain’t all sweet if you get what I’m saying. If I wanted to be Bobby Brown, when he was cool, New Edition, Or sex symbol Bobby Brown. I had to be Bobby Brown when he was doing drugs too. Then I’d have to be Bobby Brown now when he was clean, having a realisation about life. Pick very wisely who your idols are because it ain’t all sweet bro, as much as it looks sweet on the outside. It’s like “Oh Ian got all the b*tches, Ian got all the clothes, he’s doing this.” You don’t know that frustration. Like dawg, I’m city hopping with no crib all the time but making damn near 20-30 bands a month… and still, don’t have a crib.
Why do you have no crib [home]?
Just because I didn’t care about having a crib, I knew how to survive. What was the point in having a crib if I’m out in Paris, America, and Japan? I’m in Europe at least twice a month then back to f*cking Asia. I don’t care, bro, I’m good, I’m under Rocky, I used to live with Rocky. What people don’t understand is, they see me city hopping b*tches, in the clothes, the influence and the power plays. When that’s gone and you get back to American and you don’t have the keys to the crib because you have just missed Rocky by a day because he went to New York while you was in London or f*cking Copenhagen, and you ain’t got keys for the crib, what are you going to do, do you want to be Ian then? Like, do you?
So what are you trying to say?
What I’m trying to say is, if you want to be someone you have to be the ins and outs of them.
Are you frustrated with people trying to be you?
No, I’m not frustrated, you have to realise what comes with it. It’s like “Ok cool, I’m a different person than I was last year because it’s hard to trust whoever.” Dawg, you wanted to be me or have part of me when everything is all sweet, but when sh*t going down hill you don’t want to be me. But now, end of 2016 to now 2017 I started killing sh*t and applying pressure to the game and everyone wants to be back with Ian Connor. It doesn’t work like that. If you want to be Ian Connor, you got to be 2016 Ian Connor also.
Did last year make you realise you can’t trust anybody?
It’s not that I can’t trust anybody bro, it’s the realisation. I probably went too far when I said I can’t trust anyone but I know who I can trust and I know who my main person is. It’s like the majority I can’t trust. I stay away and I don’t play those politics.
A lot of things happened with you last year, what have you learned from your mistakes?
There were no mistakes last year, the only thing I went through is a ride on life. Being the top dog and not giving a f*ck you get what I’m saying? A few things that I learned from last year is life. Yeah, I need a crib bro, like I’m 24-years-old, there’s no reason when I’m making 20-30 bands [thousand US dollars] a month with no crib, that’s just stupid. Social status doesn’t mean sh*t, at the end of the day we are all human. I had to learn shit like that.
For me, when I first found out about you, I didn’t know you were a stylist. How did that evolve? And who are you styling at the moment, Kylie Jenner right?
No, I’m not a stylist for Kylie Jenner, that was all last year.
So who are you styling at the moment?
No one. I separated myself. I’m not styling for anyone, I’m working on myself. Put it this way, the people that I work for now with all the industry politics and bulls*it aside… you’ll see me, you know it’s me and I will always leave my mark.
Who have you styled in the past?
I had Migos, Wiz Khalifa and just a few others I don’t want to mention. I don’t mean to shy away from the question but I’ll leave that at that.
But how and why did you become a stylist?
I wasn’t a stylist and I never claimed to be a stylist, Wiz just asked me one day and I decided to take up the job. It was Wiz who really birthed this. ‘Boom’ I went to his house getting tattoos “Yo Wiz what you doing with this sh*t whack bro” then he was like “Then why don’t you be my stylist?”. Then I was like about to hit Rocky [A$AP Rocky] because Rocky is my manager and get him to sort the paperwork. It was my first official job with a contract I ever signed in my life. Not a 9-5 but a job with a payroll, wake up in the morning and go out and do this.
Did you feel like you were ready for that?
Bro… I dress everyone as I see them, from the businessman, the homeless man to the goth b*tch. That is just how my brain is naturally set up. With Wiz, No homo, I liked his body frame. You know he’s skinny and I know what I saw and the potential in it. You get what I’m saying, the tattoos the open shirt, two gold chains shit like that. So yeah, it was cool for me and it was fun. It was like dressing my child as if I were to have a baby. I had that feeling when I was dressing him, I didn’t really enjoy having the title as a stylist because that’s not what I really cared to do.
Yeah because you never really claimed the title in your bio or anything? Why not?
No… same with modelling. I became big off of modelling and styling but that wasn’t necessarily my thing. I love cool pictures of myself but I didn’t want to be in the category of a ‘model’. I’m a creative, I love to use my brain. If I could sit in my room all day and just use my brain and then go out and do it, I would.
You’ve started your own brand, tell us about Revenge x Storm?
Revenge is me by myself and Storm in Noah by himself and Revenge x Storm is us together.
Why did you call it Revenge?
I’ve been revenge since the beginning of time, since age 14. It’s been my name across all social media. From like MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr… I’ve always been Ian Connors Revenge.
Why the name Revenge? Has there been something behind it?
You know what’s funny? I’m not a futurist or whatever. Not like visions… or maybe I am. I know how sh*ts going to go. It’s not like I’m saying, “Yo Donalds Trump’s going to win the presidency” but like, I know how things are going to go years or months before it happens because I read deeper into situations then what it is. So with Revenge, it’s like… cool, me just being Revenge. Damn, I’m not getting every girl I want. I’m not getting all the respect from all these n*ggas. At a young age before all this sh*t.
Then it’s like “Alright my name is Revenge.” This is why I choose myself Revenge because I’m downplayed or whatever. Then it’s like, alright, I’m in the industry now, I’m getting all the respect and I’m still downplayed. Then we got sh*t like last year… alright, this is what it really means, REVENGE! Y’all think you either try to kill me or think I’m crazy or dead. Like “Oh Ian ain’t gonna come back from this,” no, REVENGE!
So experience last year is what motivated you to start Revenge? What was the driving force to start your brand?
It was like I had to live life… one of my biggest inspirations was A$AP Bari, the same person who tried to kill ‘I’m going to show them’… Nah, bro. You can’t, the only person who can stop me is me. Like any shape or form. Even if you physically kill me I have a plan set up. It’s not from an ill place, not like I am trying to get money from him. That’s my love bro, the love of my heart bro. Don’t ever get it twisted.
What do you think of A$AP Bari?
We are cut from the same cloth, we live the same lifestyle. The real VLONE lifestyle. We’re running the streets, sleeping on b*tches floors with money in our pockets, stealing from bitches and finessing to the next city. We made it bro, we did that. We were street kids that really broke into fashion, without lyrics. Rocky did it, cool. He from the same neighbourhood as Bari but he had a talent, a direct talent. He had lyrics. I and Bari did this sh*t without lyrics. We made a direct change on the culture bro. Me directly, Bari indirectly- that’s what people don’t understand. We did this more than any of these n*ggas bro. No disrespect to take it away but It’s bigger than a Pharell and a Kanye, based off we did it without lyrics. It was our lifestyle, our moves and it was just us. When Kanye was signed with Roc-a-fella and Jay-Z they would be mocking him in the studio calling him gay and sh*t and then begging him for a hit. With us it’s just us, what you see is what you get and we changed the game through that.
Do you ever take your influence for granted?
Maybe when I was younger, I’ve been an influence since I was 18-19. I hate to say it but I have always had a big fanbase.
When you tweet do you think twice before you share it?
F*ck no bro, like it’s me. That’s my brain.
What’s your obsession with dying young? What makes you share these thoughts on the internet?
I want people to understand, I’m not suicidal and I would never kill myself. I don’t want to die but I’m just tired. When I say tired I mean I know my time span of what I have to do and then there’s nothing left. Like when I’m done, what else is there to do?
And what is that time span?
I would say another 4 or 5 years. I can knock out what I want to do.
So you think you could predict your future?
Yeah, I could predict my future from the age of 15, it’s not that I knew I would be something. It’s the fact that I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
So what’s your future?
I don’t know, I can’t directly say. It may last longer than those four or five years. I don’t know how I am going to die, I might get killed in a car accident or I might die tomorrow on the plane. I know that time span of what I am doing for other people and my goals and then I’m out.
Do you feel like you’ve lived already?
Yeah, bro, I’ve seen this all at a young age. I comprehend what I have done and what I do.
Do you ever plan on having kids, get married, settling down and having a house?
I do want to have kids, I will embed in my kids head what I want while I’m here but when I’m gone. It’s like I have left you a blueprint already, it won’t just be “Oh my Dad is Ian Connor the fashion guy” it will be something deeper that I am leaving. You get what I’m saying?
What would you do without the internet?
Live my life! Live a real… I wouldn’t say live a real life, I live a real life already. I’d live bro, continue living.
From looking at your career, you’ve gone from being an influencer to a stylist and now an entrepreneur. You seem like a creative person, where do you get your inspiration from? What drives your creativity?
Understanding that the brain is the most important thing in the world, the brain, and genuine emotion. Those are the most important things. That means more than any of the hundred of thousands of dollars worth of f*cking clothes I have an attachment to. Don’t you find it ironic that the smartest man in the world is paralysed and can’t even talk, Stephen Hawking, you know how crazy that is? He can’t move or talk but by society, he is the smartest man in the world and that’s sick bro. That’s so beautiful.
Are you ready to be a businessman?
I wouldn’t say directly ready to be a ‘businessman’ but I am ready to grow up more. I may never be a businessman. I never want anyone around me that will cheat me, I always want to know what’s going on. But a businessman? That’s kinda too much for me right now. Just the same way a few years ago they were like “Oh you ready for a brand” and no I’m not ready for a brand, I will know when I am ready for a brand. I know my steps and I will never get too beside myself.
Where do you want to take Revenge?
A lifestyle, that’s my whole point. I want to build a lifestyle brand for the youngers to understand. People in general, it may be a 30-year-old man who may read this interview and it might change his life. It is a lifestyle… a doubt, for them and yourself.
Where did you come up with the lightning effect on the Revenge x Storm custom sneaker?
That was Noah, it was all Noah. And I came in… but put is this way, everybody knows about Nigo [Bape, Founder], well the ones who do. People all know about Nigo but they don’t know about the Sk8thing. I don’t know if I want to go into depth with that or let the people do their research. I want people to do their research because everybody knows about Nigo, but they don’t know about Sk8thing. When you do your research you will see why I and Noah make sense and who we are.
Apart from Raf Simons, because we know you love Raf, what other designers do you love?
I love Virgil, Off White.
Because it’s modern and ‘now’. You get what I am saying? It is not like he is creating the future but he is moving with the times like it is ‘boom, boom, boom.’ Alyx Studios and Matthew Williams are also some of my favourite brands. Fashion Criminal is this low-key brand by a guy named Brian. I f*ck with it, the sweats, the quality.
What are your thoughts on the Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration?
It didn’t excite me at all and it didn’t do anything for me.
Really? Why, but don’t you love Supreme?
I know… I just look at it and it’s not cool, actually, I wouldn’t say it’s not cool but there are only two things I would get from it, I don’t want to sound anti but yeah. Maybe the big trunk and the denim jacket.
So you’re not big of the collection? Is it because they’ve collaborated with Louis Vuitton?
Nah… I’ve been collecting old Louis like crazy for a while but it just doesn’t really speak to me. I’m not someone who just gravitates towards something, I’ve done that, I went through that phase. I have always picked wisely what Supreme pieces I get. It’s cool and I know what pieces I want and that’s it. But yeah those Supreme pieces in collaboration with LV just didn’t really speak to me.
You were on a live panel with SHOWstudio in London, I saw you tweeting how nervous you were, do you get scared when you have to face reality?
It’s not about reality it is more about the pressure. It’s not reality, I’m forever in touch with reality so it’s not like I’m afraid to do something like that at all. This was a big move, I was in front of Nick Knight, one of the top most prestigious people in the fashion industry and that is a lot. One of my OG’s Matthew was there and I had to make him proud, Virgil was there too and I had to make him proud and A$AP Rocky, so I had to make him proud too. Then It’s like the kids, so what I say, I’m speaking directly to you and I know the power my words hold so I don’t want anyone to directly change their views based off me and that’s why I was saying I was scared because I don’t really do things like that.
How do you deal with all these negative comments on social media?
I don’t care, It’s whatever.
Has it ever got to you?
No… It has never got to me for why, for what or how? It may open doorways in my head.
What advice do you give to other young influential people on social media that deal with hate everyday?
Do you. At the end of the day if that person dies, who’s going to hate on you? Like are you going to still dwell on their hate even when they’re dead? Just do you.
Does hate motivate you?
Of course! It fuels me, bro. It really boosts me. It’s not a bad thing like I said the mind is the most important thing. I’m based off my mind, so, therefore, doubting me you’re doubting my mind and now I have to show you.
If there was one thing you would change what would it be?
[Silence]… Nothing. Nothing at all, this is a story and it goes how it is supposed to go. It is already written so it is what it is.