Big Facts with Luka Sabbat
Luka Sabbat has taken the fashion world by storm these past few years as a model, stylist, tastemaker and all-around creative person. So it wasn’t enough for us to simply shoot photos for our men’s trend campaign. We had to sit down with the man and have a proper conversation.
Read our interview to find out his views on the title “influencer” (often used to describe him), what he’s listening to, his emerging brand/not-brand Hot Mess and where he sees himself at 40 years old—which still seems light years away when you’re 19.
SHOP: Men’s Trend
Throughout this shoot, you’ve been listening to Young Thug and Chief Keef…
…but also Aphex Twin and Stereolab.
What appeals to you about any of those artists?
They’re in their own lane. They have their own sound. They’re uncopyable. Nobody can make an Aphex Twin track. Nobody can make a Stereolab track. Nobody even tries to re-create a Chief Keef track. He’s in his own lane. Thugger has his own melodies, his own bars. They’re just unreplicable.
How do you feel about the word “influencer”?
I hate it with all my life. I also hate the word “millennial.” We get it, influencer, millennial. You’re under 21 and have over 50,000 followers. We get it.
Wait, are you a millennial?
Yeah, millennial is anyone from 13 to 20.
What am I? I’m 35.
You’re Generation Y.
I thought I was the first millennial.
Millennials never end.
Why do you hate the word “influencer” so much?
Because 99% of the people who are called influencers have influenced nothing and contribute nothing to culture to change anything, style-wise, mentality-wise, visual-wise, art-wise. “Influencer” is, “Oh, we can get this person to get kids to buy things.” I’m not on that.
How do you define success for yourself?
I don’t really set goals, I just do as much as I can until I can’t. I don’t know. I’m always doing something creative. Always working on something. That’s success. Plenty of people are busy, but staying busy doing something you like.
You’ve said you’re interested in designing furniture. Which piece of furniture would you like to try first?
I want to make a coffee table, chairs and stools. The starter pack.
Why those pieces?
What’s a house without all of the above? I know people who don’t have a table, but they have a coffee table. A coffee table is more important than a table. Because you can do everything on the coffee table, plus what you could do on a table. I want to do the starter pack. The basics.
You grew up in Paris and New York. How did splitting time affect you?
It’s just different lifestyles. Also, I’ve been taking planes since I was six years old. I would people-watch at airports. There’s only a few places in the world where you’ll catch this, but at airports you catch the worst version of any human. There’s someone, and there’s the worst version of them. You’re on this primal, I gotta get to my plane, I hate everything. Everybody’s in a rush. But it’s like, we’re all getting on a plane, bruh. The plane will leave without you, but that’s only if you’re, like, dumb late.
As you get older, what kinds of things are becoming more important to you?
As I get older … bruh, the same things that’s been important to me. Video games are very, very important in my life. Clothes. I don’t even wear 90% of my clothes, I just want them. Video games. Street Fighter. My PS4. My girlfriend. She’s super unbiased. She’ll tell me if something’s garbage. You know how people have an angel on their shoulder? She’s that. “That’s fire, that’s garbage.” Also, women are rarely wrong. She’s like Peter Parker. They all have a sixth sense or something. Every time a woman’s like, “You shouldn’t do that…,” turns out you shouldn’t have. Other than that, my friends, my family, that’s it.
Who do you trust?
My girlfriend, my family and my friends I can count on one hand. And my PS4.
Do you have any feeling about seasons? Do you prefer one season over another?
I don’t care. They don’t matter. Also I travel so much, I’ll go one place and it’ll be another season.
How about this: what’s prettier, fall in Paris or fall in New York City?
Everything’s prettier in Paris, period. Everything looks cooler in New York. Like a rainy day in New York, you’re like, oh [dang]. But rain in Paris is stunning. So is snow. So is a sunny day. So is fall. So Paris wins everything in terms of visual, like “wow.” I prefer a sunny day in New York. Visually, a sunny day in Paris is better. But I enjoy a sunny day in New York.
You’re a successful model at a young age. And I know you have Hot Mess that you’re getting off the ground. What is something you see yourself doing in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself still doing Hot Mess but it will be bigger and better. More content, more films, more furniture, more photos, more clothes. I want to make buildings. Hot Mess is really a creative group, so if I sign an architect to Hot Mess, and he makes a building, that’s a building designed by Hot Mess. Obviously he did it, but we all have creative input. And nobody’s in Hot Mess. It’s literally me and Noah, and Curtis does all the writing. In 10 years, there’s still only going to be 10 people in Hot Mess. That’s a reach. I don’t know if I want that many people. In 10 years I still want to be doing design, but I want a body of work so that the people I have are on the same brain wave. They get it. I can’t explain what “it” is. They get the aesthetic. I’m not going to use the word “vision,” that’s the worst. They get the gist. They actually get it. I’ll do creative things, but I’ll influence them to really go crazy on their own. But also have my input. I want to dabble. I want to be like, this is sick, you should do this; this is sick, you should do this; this is sick, let me put my own thing on that. Every fashion house or creative house, there’s the head honcho, and then his guys. The four horsemen. You’ve been a mentor to them and they are a version of you. That. Probably not in 10 years, but 20. Everything I just said, I want to be doing at 40. At 30, in 10 years, I still want to be out in these streets, creating. At 40, I’m going to cut, and just be in Sicily with my wife, my son Beano, my daughter Vino, you know what I’m saying, drinking wine, pick up the phone, be like, “You gotta add more windows to this building. You gotta let more light in.”
Do you consider yourself a leader?
I can’t speak on if I consider myself a leader because, I definitely know I am, buuuut—so I did speak on it, broke my own rule, paradox vibes—but look, at the end of the day I still can’t speak on it, because it’s like, let the people who I lead speak for me. I don’t want to throw shots, but there’s a lot of things I’ve done that have influenced people to do this and that, style-wise, visual-wise, and that makes me a leader because I’m already off that. That was a gift. Merry Christmas. It’s already Easter where I’m at. Me? I’m on some other stuff. You? You’re on some, what you’re on. Also I think I’m a leader because I’ve influenced some of the biggest influencers. I don’t even have a million followers, but I’ve influenced some very, very important things, or people, and that became a thing. Even though I didn’t get credit, or money, it gets back to me. And the people who need to know, know. The people who want to know, know. And I’m 19, trying to piece everything together.
Sounds like you notice that people copy you…
There’s a major difference between copying and being inspired. Like, wow. If you want it that bad, you can take it. Some people get inspired and it’s like, this is sick. It’s a version of something I would do, their own version. Some people get too gassed. I just think I do things that people like, that gives them good ideas.
What gets you going? Where does that fire inside come from?
The thing that keeps me going, it’s not even like that. People are like, what’s the fire in your heart? It’s just like a box of matches. You just last a really long time. A lot of people work really hard, and they don’t get far. And a lot of people work smart, but they work hard enough where they put most of their energy into working smart, and they’ll work hard on the side. And that pays off crazy. That’s what I’m on. Not to be a negative Nancy, but I woke up and was like, yo, I don’t feel like people are—there’s crazy good content out, but I don’t feel like a lot of it was for my age group, or my scene. There needs to be more. My fire was originally something kind of negative, but I turned it into a positive in my life. I take something I don’t f— with, and make it so I f— with it. I’m not the only person making content in my age bracket. That would be stupid for me to say. Why out of the 150,000 kids who follow me, only two or three are putting out crazy fire? At least 50,000 people should be putting out fire. Or at least something wavey. I don’t know. The reason I want to make a short film was I woke up and was like, why hasn’t somebody made this yet? Like I have a chair in my head, and I Googled every possible combination of keywords to see if it exists.…
What are you Googling?
Can’t speak on it. Or else people will know what I’m up do. I was looking and I couldn’t find the one. I’m just gonna make it. If I wake up and feel like something’s missing, that’s my fire. I’ll try and fill that void. That’s why I don’t really make clothes, because I have everything I want. I make clothes for my girlfriend to wear. That’s literally what I make every time. Me and my girlfriend share my closet. I don’t even wear Hot Mess merch. It’s jeans, jackets, sweatshirts, but it’s all proper. It’s not Gildan. It’s cut and sewn. It’s almost like a real brand. But I don’t want to say that, to disrespect the real brands that go way harder than me, that have collections, crazy creative design process. Me, I’m like, I like this. It’s not been done the way I want it to be done, so I’m gonna make that, make a few pieces, and give it to my girlfriend. Can we turn off the mic real quick?
Thank you for sharing that. You can trust us.
Thank you. I don’t want that out. I just do things. I just like to make stuff. I like to make really good, quality stuff. A lot of people don’t like the way I speak about creative stuff. They want me to be like, I WORK SO HARD, I PUT ALL MY ENERGY, AND ALL MY FIRE, AND I WANT TO BE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL. That’s not what I’m on, bro. I’m trying to make the best version of myself, the best version of what I can make. I don’t want to make content about what’s already out. It’s out. I have mad content to put out, and I don’t put out 80% of it. Hot Mess is not fashion photography. We added a fashion aspect of it without it being fashion photography. The whole thing was making photos look like cinematography. The girl jumping off the pier, the girl hitchhiking. I want it to look like movie cover photos. That’s what I’m on. But a group of photos that make a story. That’s when Curtis comes in and writes his little poems. That’s my energy. I don’t want to put something out that’s out prior to me. I don’t even post my work on Instagram. It’s just, Look at my fit. Look at my pants. You see these pants? Stunning. You see this jacket? Marvelous.
What does social media mean to you?
Nothing. There was a time when I only posted like once a month on Instagram. And the kids were like, Where are your fit pics? They’re coming. They’re on the way. Now I’m back on Instagram but with a whole new twist. My new thing is like kooky, kook-ah, kook-ee…. Like this, sold a Lamborghini, bought a deli. Or like this, it’s my friend Taco’s birthday, so I found a taco that matched my sweater like happy birthday, my guy. The yellow cab thing paid off, and it goes back to this picture, where I’m in a cab. So it makes a story. This picture is like, you know Drake’s like, “40 said the house is on a lake / I didn’t even know it was a lake.” You know I’m in front of a gate, I didn’t even know it was a gate. I used to be on some serious sh—. It was like me in front of a wall, trying to do a fit pic. Now I’m a goof. I’m myself, but I’m a goof. Before I had this aesthetic, Luka looks angry in every photo. Now I’m like, I’m just gonna do what I do. The caption doesn’t even matter. It’s an inside joke.
It probably keeps you sane.