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He isn't your typical model. He's short, for one — 5 feet 5 inches — and readily speaks about his unconventional looks. "I know I'm not attractive," he says. "I have scars. Maybe if I was clean-cut I would be cute or whatever but I have so many cons. I'm short. Sometimes my teeth won't be looking so cute. There are just different things that fall in the category of me being ugly and there's nothing wrong with that." This only serves to motivate him, though. "I'm going to always out-style you," he says. "My mind is more advanced than yours."
It's hard to pin down Connor's exact background, although one thing is certain: he's an expert at crafting his own personal brand and narrative. He was born in New York, where he lived until he was nine before moving to Atlanta. He then made his way back to New York when he was 18. According to an interview with Complex, he now resides in the Hollywood home previously owned by rapper A$AP Rocky.
The polymath says he doesn't know his father and that he rarely talks to his mother despite the fact that she's "pretty straight." She regularly embarrasses him by posting baby pictures on Instagram, a practice that, according to her bio, is done to get "a point across." She adds, "BTW... Ian blocks his own mama on twitter and instagram!!!" The images offer a glimpse of a child clearly concerned with style, whether dressed in a leather jacket or all-white suit. The account also shows that Connor never lacked confidence. "At first I was mad, but I have to realize she's my mom and I don't talk to her that much and that's her outlet," Connor says.
Connor first started making a name for himself on Tumblr, where he and fellow Tumblr star Glyn Brown stacked reblogs and promoted their line of screen-printed tees and sweatshirts, L3NF. Connor somehow struck gold when he partnered with designer Will Fry for a mesh top that featured an all-over print of the teen's face. The tank top was worn by rappers like Trinidad James and Odd Future member Left Brain; suddenly, Connor's fame was even more widespread. Streetwear brands like Rhude, Lumières, Stussy, and Bape began to feature the burgeoning model in their lookbooks.
"I'm not trying to be part of the 27 club or nothing, but I don't want to make it to 50 or even 40. I'm trying to die like the young legends."
His big break, though, was successfully maneuvering into A$AP Rocky's crew, A$AP Mob. "I chased behind [A$AP Mob member] Bari like a f***ing dog, like, ‘Hey, what's up, Bari?' All the time," he says. "I'd be like, ‘When we hanging?' And he'd be like, ‘I'm not hanging out with you today, little *****.' I'd be like, ‘Aw, f*** you!' But still follow him around. I'd take pictures of him as he was walking away. I looked up to Bari so much until we were inseparable." Connor eventually became a member of A$AP Mob and the group's most prominent member, Rocky, is his manager. "[He] makes sure that all my business is straight," and "I don't get taken advantage of," Connor explained on The Come Up podcast.
Everything you need to know about the personal brand Connor has created takes place in the first ten minutes of the model's interview with The Come Up's No Jumper podcast. Before talking fashion, Connor pulls out his gun and brags about all the women he's having sex with. In a Complex interview, he claims he's slept with over 300 women, and you don't have to scroll too far down his Twitter to find explicit evidence of this.
Connor often professes a desire to die young and leave behind some sort of legacy. "I'm not trying to be part of the 27 club or nothing, but I don't want to make it to 50 or even 40," he says. "I'm trying to die like the young legends. I want to be young forever."
He's working hard to make a name for himself before that happens. In addition to styling Jenner and Khalifa, he collaborates with brands like Emotionally Unavailable and Pink Dolphin, and consults for streetwear stores such as FourTwoFour in Los Angeles. He's already taking on proteges like Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti and Shane Gonzalez, founder of a brand Connor models and collaborates with called Midnight Studios, and who Connor refers to as his "child."
There's also his modeling work. His look may be untraditional, but the one thing he does have in common with the Cara Delevingnes, Kendall Jenners, and Gigi Hadids of the world is a massive social media following (roughly 300,000 followers on Instagram and almost 150,000 on Twitter). It's on these platforms where you truly see the power of Connor's influence. The comments section of his pictures are filled with young men calling him "dad" and "father."
Connor represents a new crop of kids who serve as muses and arbiters of what's cool. "There's just kids in New York that are the new wave and they're setting the new standard," designer Virgil Abloh tells GQ. "Innovators like Ian Connor and Luka [Sabbat]. I trust them more than I trust the establishment." In addition to Connor, there's 14-year-old Mike the Ruler, who starred in a New York Magazine profile wearing Hood By Air when he was 13. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion brands, sits front row at Hood By Air's fashions shows, and celebrated last Thanksgiving at Rick Owens's house in Paris.
A friend of both Mike and Connor, 18-year-old Luka Sabbat has also been featured in both Yeezy presentations, has creative directed and starred in editorials for Vogue, and plans to release his own brand...after he starts college. 16-year-old Austin Butts, who goes by Asspizza, is a burgeoning designer whose drawn-on clothing has been worn by Khalifa, Mike Will Made It, Makonnen, and Theophilus London. Connor has crowned himself the king of the youth, but it's clear that there's plenty of competition.
Last week, Connor posted a series of tweets about a serious car accident he was involved in. In a video he relays, "Damn, I almost died." Following footage of the accident, Connor started to tweet things like, "I Can Not F***ing Die I'm Ian Connor" and "Ianconnorwillneverdie." "I deserve [a] more stylish death," he writes. Preferably one with a T-shirt and its own hashtag.