The days of rolling your eyes at Instagram influencers are over. In 2018, leaders on the platform offer so much more than photos of cappuccinos—and do more with their careers, too. Meet ten young creatives who are guaranteed to make you rethink what it means to be famous on Instagram, and possibly inspire you to up your own photo-sharing game.
10 Young Style Leaders Who Launched Their Careers on Instagram
Alton Mason Jr.
Profession: Model and dancer
IG Skill: Putting together crazy outfits—and looking like the life of the party while doing it.
Big Break: Getting cast in Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden in 2016.
Other Milestones: In 2017, starring in the first Gucci campaign featuring only black models.
On what it meant to him to take part in the campaign: “To be able to say that I was a part of the first ‘all-black campaign’ is a blessing!” he told Vogue.com. “I now have the luxury of saying that nothing compares to the genuine energy, vibrations, joy, and emotion that I’ve shared among my people. It didn’t even feel like work; it was a celebration, and we’re not celebrating the opinion that we’re ‘lucky’ to be here. We’re celebrating the fact that we deserve to be here! [We’re] toasting to the acknowledgment and recognition!”
Profession: Image director for Drake
IG Skill: Unearthing fire ‘90s and ‘00s fashion images, and looking just as cool in her own selfies.
Big Break: Becoming a creative director at Kith in 2013 while still studying at NYU.
Other Milestones: Curating Drake’s wardrobe and helping to direct the visuals on “Scorpion.”
On working with Ronnie Fieg to build Kith: “We were able to build a community of kids who cared about what we cared about. ...We made a language for the brand,” she told the New York Times.
Profession: Actor, model and entrepreneur
IG Skill: Showing off his European-meets-NYC style all over the world. And having excellent hair.
Big Break: Modeling for Hood by Air and Vogue, who cast him via Instagram DM.
Other Milestones: Playing free-spirited California University student Luca Hall on ABC’s Grown-ish.
On dropping out of college: “At my age kids are going to college parties or getting drunk and going to Ibiza. Doing whatever college kids do,” he said in an interview with Forbes. “I can't really speak on it because I dropped out less than a semester in, but most of the kids I knew at the time went such a different route and you see what they are doing and they are on some regular becoming an adult wave, and I skipped that whole college 'get drunk,' 'get all these girls' attitude; I skipped that and went to work. I got super professional out of nowhere. I kind of wanted to go through that phase of doing dumb stuff and going to college and getting wasted, but I do not drink like that or do any drugs. I can still have fun without those things; I can just get a virgin Mojito and be lit. I don't actually need tequila.”
Profession: Streetwear influencer
IG Skill: Showing off the fact that he’s the most stylish guy in Warwickshire—and possibly all of England.
Big Break: Growing to 70K Instagram followers based on a few fire outfit posts alone. (He’s up to 712K now.)
Other Milestones: Modeling for streetwear brands like Almost Always and Converse.
On responding to haters who say his mom buys his clothes: “The thing is, my mom really doesn’t buy me clothes, and I can’t be arsed to reply, because all they want is for me to reply so they can say more. So if I just leave them to be in the dark, it’s a bit more amusing than replying,” he explained to High Snobiety.
Farren Jean Andrèa
IG Skill: From selfies and memes to runway looks, Farren has his finger on the pulse—and a witty caption for every post.
Big Break: Getting on a plane to bring Rihanna an “I’m with her” T-shirt he made just days before.
Other Milestones: Styling Bella Hadid, Keke Palmer and other up-and-coming style stars.
On getting noticed by Rihanna: “Rih followed me about 4 years ago on some funny s--t," he told W. “My Twitter name was @paidho, or something like that at the time. We would kiki here and there. She DM’d me first saying that I was one of her favorite accounts which was great because I had been debating if I should slide in her DMs, but I didn’t want to seem presumptuous. Before, she would go on my page to see what’s in and check out the latest runway collections. There would be moments where I’d see her in certain pieces and I’m like, 'Did she see that on my page?' I finally got some sort of confirmation when I sent her some looks and she responded: 'Bruh, I just stole those from your page today.' That went on for some years and then I started doing my Polyvore looks. Since then, I started doing 'Special deliveRIH' where I’d send her clothes from upcoming designers.”
Profession: Menswear designer
IG Skill: Turning IKEA bags, NASA foil blankets, and deadstock Nike merch into high-fashion streetwear.
Big Break: Being tapped by Nike to be a freelance consultant and brand ambassador.
Other Milestones: Making custom pieces for Kendrick Lamar, Stormzy, Young Thug and Frank Ocean, among others.
On sustainability: “I think there’s a general consensus that most products have a specific lifespan and singular function despite this not necessarily being the truth," she said to High Snobiety. “I’m really interested in questioning these elements and exploring how a product can be reinvented so as to delay its hypothetical use-by date.”
Profession: Model, artist and stylist
IG Skill: Find the perfect set for every fly outfit he puts together, whether it’s a carnival or airplane hanger.
Big Break: Getting cast in Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden in 2016. (Yep, just like Alton Mason Jr.)
Other Milestones: Finding a mentor in Virgil Abloh, who has invited Bloody to help style and model in Off-White’s runway shows.
On turning his life around after heading down the wrong path: “There was an unfortunate situation that happened, and it caused me to get incarcerated. If I could do anything, I’d tell these kids, you know, ‘Don’t do that, bro. Don’t do nothin’. You don’t want to be in there,’” he said in a Hypebeast video. “All of the negativity, I just want to stop all of that. I’ve been through so much that’s negative, and done so much that’s negative, it’s time to be positive. Ever since I’ve been positive, things have just been going up for me.”
IG Skill: Having all of the muscles.
Big Break: Getting scouted by Wilhelmina Models after posting a shirtless photo of himself building a patio deck with his father.
Other Milestones: Appearing on Ellen and walking in runway shows for Moschino and Jeremy Scott.
On his aspiration to segue into acting: “I want to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio," he told W. “I want to be the next Brad Pitt. I have the same vibe as Mark Wahlberg. I grew up in a low-income family. I fought in high school and got into a little bit of mischief."
Profession: Model and stylist
IG Skill: Putting together of-the-moment yet totally out there looks using a combination of designer pieces and thrift store finds.
Big Break: Getting scouted to appear in Skepta’s “Shutdown” video, which has 37 million views on YouTube alone.
Other Milestones: Styling for music videos, look books and editorial spreads, most of which she is hired for via Instagram DM.
On why she stands out as a stylist: “As a curvy black stylist, I haven’t always been able to fit in major ‘markets,’ so I guess that made me stand out,” she told Vogue.com. “I’ve always believed ‘mystery makes history,’ so I avoid posting just anything at any time. I also look in places that a lot of [other stylists] wouldn’t think of. Rather than go for the big brands, I spend hours sourcing vintage gems to collect and style. They create a feeling of nostalgia for a lot of people, but also offer something new.”
Profession: Skateboarder and model
IG Skill: Doing insane skateboarding tricks while wearing equally enviable outfits.
Big Break: Getting scouted by Next Model Management from his hometown of Bath, England, because of the skateboarding videos he posted online.
Other Milestones: Modelling for Dior Homme, H&M and countless other brands.
On his unlikely side hustle as a model: “There’s always going to be people that talk shit and are bitter about everything, but I’ve also had a lot of good feedback,” he told Vogue.com. “I think it surprised a lot of people that these large fashion companies would consider a skater. ...I feel very lucky to be in this position, and I hope it inspires other kids to get out there and not be worried what other people think.”
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