We caught up with the young trendsetter to learn more about the self-proclaimed "King of the Youth."
This article originally appeared in Highsnobiety Magazine Issue 10. Read the piece in full below and stay tuned for Issue 11
Ian Connor is a curious creature – both in terms of the interest he receives and the interest he conveys in the world around him. He’s also a highly conspicuous character; in this instance arriving later than scheduled for an in-store appearance at Ejder and Highsnobiety’s collaborative pop-up in London. With crew in tow, he asks aloud upon entering the store “what would happen if I just fucked this display up?” Not much would’ve happened apart from irritating the shop staff (which is probably why he didn’t in the end), but that kind of exuberance and ‘fuck this shit’ attitude seems to resonate through what Ian Connor does.
‘But who’s Ian Connor, and what is it that he does?’ you’d be forgiven for asking. In fact, yours truly was near-oblivious prior to meeting him, and made a sizeable faux pas in the course of finding out. After his pronounced arrival and the subsequent swarm of snapping hypebeasts that followed, I introduced myself when things had settled down slightly. Not long into my introduction, I pointed to one of the kids that had shown up to the shop, wearing a black waterproof jacket with a strip around the waist reading ‘fuck off’ over and over, and then entertained the idea of him showing up to a job interview with it on. Ian’s response? “I designed that.”
Once I had removed my toes from my teeth, Ian and I moved ourselves into the less-busy setting of the stockroom downstairs. I asked him directly who he was, since my first attempt to feign familiarity had gone down in flames, and he responded “I’m Ian Connor, I’m human, and I like to do random things.” So I pressed for more details for the sake of anyone who, like me 48 hours prior, didn’t really know who he was. “I’m Ian Connor, Wiz Khalifa’s assistant, personal stylist, creative director. Creative director for A$AP Rocky, and I have one child by the name of Shane Gonzales” (better known as the LA-based designer Ian collaborated with and modeled for on his Midnight clothing brand).
So that’s some context. Ian Connor is seemingly a ‘go-to’ guy when it comes to the sartorial choices of hip-hop superstars, but I already had this information after a cursory search on Google. That in addition to information about his other collaborations with cool brands like Wil Fry and Stussy, I also encountered lots of envious online posts questioning his position as an arbiter of style, but as Ian explains, it comes with the territory. Recalling that his interest in fashion started at around 13 or 14, he tells me “I realized I was ugly and my style had to save me,” and when I ask where he wants to be in 10 years’ time, without a second’s hesitation he responds: “dead.”
“I want to die by hater. I want somebody to get so mad at my existence that like, I fuck with their mental so hard that they feel like for them to be at ease, they need to take me out. Or! Or, I want to die like, I want someone... I’m a big fan, big supporter of being yourself, but of course that’s never really going to happen when internet culture exists and everyone copies each other and shit. So I want someone to want to be me so bad that they feel as if they’re the real Ian Connor, that they feel that they should be in my position, to a point that they have to kill me. No in between. They either really got to love me, or they really got to hate me, and then they can kill me.”
An envious position has Ian, and he’s aware of it. Needless to say that making money though doing something that he loves alongside public figures, it attracts people (especially online) to vent their issues with him. And whilst we discuss the rare position he finds himself in, I ask for his thoughts on the famous Confucius quote, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and he smiles in agreement.
“I’m living proof of that. I enjoy clothes so much, and my style, when I have to dress Wiz, or dress myself, it’s like ‘Damn, this is cool.’ Because, I mentally dress everyone I come across in the first place. So it’s cool that I actually get to get paid for doing it and on top of that, it’s like… the only thing about all that is deadlines. Deadlines kinda get to me. But besides that? My job is cool. And using my brain, me having a position as a creative director, it basically saved me... I probably would have had a mental breakdown if I couldn’t bring the things that I have to life. Having the resources or the funding for it, I was lucky to be put in that position. So it doesn’t really feel like work, it just feels like living. But with deadlines.”
With that said, Ian can just as easily be described as a very lucky boy who’s been in the right places and the right times with the right talent, and surely can’t be blamed for taking full advantage, riding a wave of internet fame.
“I like to fuck, I like to shop, and I like to create. I’m not trying to be clichéd like ‘life is so, there’s so much to it just, like, live it,’ but I mean there’s so much for you to do in this world; so much. So why not? Why not go outside your zone? Why are people there sitting content in their home town? Yo, there’s a fucking world out there. How could you not want to see the world? Even if say you don’t necessarily have the funds or the means or any of that… with the world as you know it, even in your town, why not just randomly just start talking to homeless people that live downtown, or why not just randomly like, go to the fucking grocery store and hang with the old lady behind the register for a little while on her break or whatever. It seem weird but it’s a new perspective, even if you don’t really like it afterwards, at least you tried.”
Although as many before him have discovered, recognizability is also something that has its own drawbacks. He explains to me, “It’s got to a point where, the bigger and bigger I get, sometimes I’ll just fall back on social media, or don’t like going out, or even the times where I feel like ‘alright, I’m safe’ or whatever... It’s always that there’s someone that fucking knows me, everywhere. And that kinda sucks.”
There’s an irony there, as somebody who courts public attention but doesn’t do well with crowds. “I wouldn’t say that I’m awkward, but I kind of like being to myself. I enjoy meeting strangers more than I like meeting people who ‘know’ me.” My earlier error of inadvertently criticizing a jacket he helped design now didn’t seem so bad, then.
“I feel that people already have a perception about me, already pre-judged. For me, now it’s becoming more of a social disorder, where I just can’t fuck with people but I have to force it. Like ‘alright, I’ll take a picture with this kid’ or ‘I’ll give this kid some conversation’ based off of not knowing if the three or four words I share with that kid, or rather the three or four minutes that I spend with that kid… who knows what that kid could fucking become? He could become one of the biggest designers out! So that’s the only hope I have at the back of my mind but besides that, I hate fucking with crowds of people. Like, I really hate it. It makes me very uncomfortable.”
And so, as somebody who enjoys fashion but hates crowds, he succinctly ends our interview with a timeless sentiment: “Fuck Fashion Week.”
Written by Moses Wiener for Highsnobiety Special Thanks: EJDER