Evan Mock: ‘I’m wild, crazy and constantly thinking about sh*t’
The ‘Gossip Girl’ star cum model, skater, surfer – and fashion designer – is the hypest Gen-Z creator on Earth right now
Monday 5 September By Sagal Mohammed Photography by Danny Kasirye Styling by Taylor Okata Grooming by Scott McMahon With thanks to Dumbo House
On paper, Evan Mock is the kind of guy you’d feel intimidated by. The cool kid in class with the perfectly symmetrical face who can do it all: a surfer, pro skateboarder, actor, model, director… the list goes on. In person, however, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s hard to feel intimidated by someone as warm and open as he is.
When I arrive at his Soho House cover shoot at DUMBO House in Brooklyn, he introduces himself with a wide smile before I get a chance to greet him first. He’s dressed almost head-to-toe in Alexander McQueen, with a pair of Jordans and Cartier jewels put together by his close friend and stylist, Taylor Okata. ‘We should all have lunch together when we wrap up,’ he says, inviting the entire team on set to hang out with him after the shoot. All of a sudden, it’s clear why Mock has become somewhat of a Gen Z god over the past two years, with over a million Instagram followers cheering on his every move. ‘I think people connect with me because of my authenticity,’ he says. ‘Real recognises real and my generation, they just get it.’
Since being co-signed by Frank Ocean, who shared a video – filmed by artist Tom Sachs, no less – of Mock flying around on his skateboard with his signature soft pink hair back in February 2019, the now 25-year-old has been everywhere. Starring in Fendi and Saint Laurent campaigns, towering over pedestrians on Calvin Klein billboards in SoHo, sitting front row at Balmain’s runway shows and shutting down Paris Fashion Week, where he was a top pick on everyone’s guestlist: Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Raf Simons, Lanvin and Jean Paul Gaultier, to name just a few.
Then there was this year’s Met Gala, where he wore a $12 million Cartier necklace and a white corset-inspired suit by Gen Z-founded brand Head of State. Most notably, his mainstream fame stems from his role on HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot, where he plays Akeno ‘Aki’ Menzies, a rich skater boy who is experimenting with his sexuality. The role was Mock’s first-ever acting gig and one that inspired a career he had never really given much thought to before.
‘The show’s [executive producer] Joshua Safran called me one day at the end of 2019 and asked me to send in a self-tape,’ says Mock. ‘He said he’d been looking at my face for the past two months while working on character developments for the show and wanted me to try auditioning for one of the roles. At the time, I didn’t even know what a self-tape was. I submitted it and then I had to wait a whole year to find out whether I got the job or not because of the pandemic.’
Top: Vintage t-shirt, Mock's own; shorts, Mami Wata; briefs , Marshall Columbia; sunglasses, Bonnie Clyde; shoes, Gucci; socks, Stance; jewellery, all Cartier.
Below: Top, MM6 Maison Margiela; shorts, Marshall Columbia; boxers, Comme Si; jewellery, all Cartier.
Despite the long wait, Mock was pretty confident that he had it in the bag: ‘I kind of knew I had the role because Josh was so adamant about having me, so I wasn’t too stressed about it.’ When filming eventually began in 2021, he was thrown in at the deep end with a sex scene on day one. ‘I got there and there were no handshakes or “Hey, how are you doing?” It was straight to f*****g,’ he tells me in our sit-down interview, later in the day.
His eyes are covered by a giant pair of black Balenciaga shades and he’s got a post-shoot Picante in hand. ‘I was a nervous wreck, because it was my first time acting on screen and there was very little dialogue, just sex. We had masks on the entire time until someone yelled ‘action’ and we took them off to start filming. It was crazy but, looking back, it was such a great first experience to have because now I feel like I can fly in any scenario on set.’
The day before his cover shoot, which celebrates his Creator prize at the Soho House Awards, Mock wrapped filming for the second season of Gossip Girl. This time around, he was a lot more confident and curious about the ins and outs of creating a TV show, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me after spending the day with him. ‘I’m looking at this project with the show as valuable time to soak up all the information and experience I can, because shooting a TV show or a movie is so different from a photo or video shoot.’
Mock is sharp. A natural creative who enjoys mastering new skills by simply observing and engaging in what’s around him. I know this because, just a few minutes before we sat down for our chat, he scouted the perfect location to capture the final looks of his shoot, leading our photographer, Danny Kasirye, to a discrete section of the DUMBO waterfront with a close-up of the Brooklyn Bridge as his backdrop. ‘I came here a few days ago and took some photos, that’s why I thought it could work,’ he says. As well as stepping in for some impromptu art direction, he swaps places with Kasiyre, taking some impressive photos of the photographer. ‘I’m coming for your job,’ he jokes.
Mock grew up in Hawaii, on the North Shore of Oahu. His childhood sounds just as dreamy as one would expect a life in Hawaii to be – he was home-schooled and spent the majority of his time on the beach learning how to surf. ‘Here’s the thing: the waves are good in the morning and it tends to get blown out during midday. Then it glasses out by the evening, so we used to go surfing in the morning, come back and have some breakfast and then do our school for a couple of hours before going surfing again,’ he says. ‘I can’t imagine growing up any other way but I’m also just super grateful and humbled by it. There’s a special sense of pride in being Hawaiian and I take my responsibility to represent us and our culture in everything that I do very seriously.’
Shorts, Mami Wata; briefs, Marshall Columbia; sunglasses, Bonnie Clyde; jewellery, all Cartier.
'I think people connect with me because of my authenticity. Real recognises real and my generation just gets it'
When he was 18 years old, he left the island and moved to Orange County with six friends to pursue his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder. It was the first time any of them had left their parents’ homes in Hawaii and, despite never graduating high school, it felt a lot like a typical university experience, minus all the studying. ‘We all lived together in a two-bedroom apartment, sharing beds and rooms and bathrooms. We were labelling our food and following a very specific diet because we didn’t have any money but it was a fun time,’ he reflects. ‘Eighteen years at home was enough for us to figure out that we wanted something else. We all had different motives, different jobs and different goals to achieve.
‘I wanted to be in California because that’s where most of my sponsors were for surfing and skating at the time, but also my sister lived in Costa Mesa.’ Ironically, she moved back to Hawaii just as Mock got there, though it didn’t take him long to settle in and create a new life for himself.
Today, there’s no stopping him when it comes to building his creative empire. Earlier this year, he made $MAHCOIN, his own cryptocurrency, teaming up with P00ls, a leader in the social Web3 world for the development aspect of things. He also launched Wahine, his own clothing line, which debuted with a 12-piece capsule collection inspired by his Hawaiian roots. ‘I try to glorify Hawaii in everything I do, but especially in fashion. Making clothes that have been inspired by what I’ve seen growing up and the things that make me think about Hawaii is so cool to me. Seeing other people walking around wearing it is pretty amazing too,’ he says.
The word ‘Wahine’ translates to and the first drop from the collection was made up of corduroy shorts, logo T-shirts and surfer-style mock-neck tops for water sports. Fashion is something Mock has been drawn to for as long as he can remember. ‘As a child, I cared about what I was wearing from as early as I could make my own choices. I would go to the surf shop and get this bent bill hat that was curved. At the time I only thought flat hats were cool, so I would put it under a bookshelf to make it flat,’ he remembers. ‘I cared so much without knowing and I guess that has carried into my adult life and my career, where I’m now conscious about what I’m wearing, who I’m wearing and the materials it has been made with.’
He also credits his love of skateboard culture for influencing his pivot into fashion. ‘With skate, you could be wearing the wackiest fit but do the sickest trick ever and I wouldn’t care about it if you looked like s**t,’ he tells me. ‘So that was basically the basis of everything for me. Skateboarding always made me consider what I looked like, and the same with surfing, because it needed to be functional but it also needed to look fly. Moulding those two things was always at the forefront of my mind when it came to my personal style.’
'I’m bringing something new to the table. I’m bringing different worlds together. That's what really matters'
For the past few years, Mock has been living in Manhattan’s East Village, a neighbourhood in New York notorious for being home to creatives and cool crowds alike. It’s a stark contrast from his life in Hawaii and Southern California, yet somehow it’s where he feels most like himself. ‘I never felt like I’d been in a city that matches my personality so well until I moved to New York,’ he says. ‘I’m wild and crazy and constantly thinking about s**t and I feel like this city is a great representation of that. Plus, I grew up being outside, so living here has been nice because there’s always something going on. You can choose to be in it or you can choose not to.’
One thing he can’t do as much anymore, however, is hide away from the public eye. While he’s relatively new to the fame game, Mock has noticed the changes in his day-to-day life. ‘I’m not Brad Pitt or anything, so I can still go out on the streets and skate, but New York is so concentrated that I do get recognised everywhere I go,’ he says. ‘Just being more conscious about what I’m doing in public has been a big change. I’m used to just being so ready to do whatever I want, whenever I want, but now TikTok is taking me down.’
He’s referring to the plethora of fan videos of him on the app, many of which are taken when he’s out and about in the city. ‘Not that I’m doing anything crazy, but I can no longer pick my nose without worrying someone will catch it on camera. I have to be focused and aware when I’m walking around.’
Having people in his business isn’t too foreign to Mock after years in Hawaii, where he says everyone knows each other and privacy wasn’t the easiest to obtain. ‘It was very much like, everyone is watching and everyone will know you kissed that girl last night, so this fame stuff is kind of similar but just on a bigger scale. It’s definitely an interesting space to be in, but I asked for it.’
Right now, Mock’s in a place in his life that he has always wanted to be in. He’s working on his second collection for Wahine, putting together a new skate ‘part’ (a series of clips skaters use as an extended showreel) before heading to Rome with the Gossip Girl cast for a ‘half-work, half-vacation’ trip. Then it’s to London for the Soho House Awards, but not before celebrating the long-awaited return of Notting Hill Carnival. ‘I’m so excited for Carnival,’ he says. ‘I’m coming in a few days early especially for it. Partying on a float is going to be epic.’
Before we join the rest of the team for lunch on the terrace, he leaves me with the viral words of our most controversial cultural icon. ‘I recently watched a clip from an old Kanye West interview that has been stuck in my head for the past 24 hours. It’s the one where he says he doesn’t want to take advice from anyone older than him, and I felt that. I’m bringing something new to the table. I’m bringing different worlds together to this entire generation I’m in. That’s what really matters.’
The Soho House Creator Award is supported by Porsche