EVAN MOCK IS BUSY DECOMPRESSING. It’s the week before our photoshoot in his adopted home of New York and the model, actor, skater and professional man about town is hanging out on Hawaii’s north shore, near where he grew up, recharging his batteries before returning to the rush of city life.

“I’ve been driving my truck around, seeing family, surfing, getting in the water . . . enjoying the simple things,” he says. He’s just bought a new Ford Raptor, which is about to receive a custom paint job. “I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t want it to stand out too crazy. So I went with this bronzy, pearly, sparkly thing.” Not crazy at all, certainly not by his standards. But Mock wasn’t put on this earth to fly under the radar. I mean, he quite literally entered the public eye on a skateboard, shirtless, with fuchsia hair and a diamanté stuck to his tooth.

By now, the story of how Evan Mock became famous is practically internet lore; a cultural artefact that belongs to a generation where fame and internet fame are one and the same. But if you’re not familiar, it went something like this: in 2019, at a skatepark in Hawaii, Mock was asked by a friend to say ‘hi’ to someone called Frank. It turned out to be the musician Frank Ocean, who posted a video of the exchange to Instagram, which turned Mock into an overnight sensation (no hyperbole, he woke up to hundreds of thousands of new followers). Instead of baulking at the attention, Mock took it in his stride, embracing the modelling jobs, brand partnerships, travel invitations and, more recently, the acting gigs that came with it.

Five years later, and he’s still the epitome of cool, which is a pretty impressive run in this attention economy. How has he maintained the momentum? “Well, I think it’s common knowledge at this point . . . but I just can’t sit still.”

Evan Mock Esquire Australia
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello jacket, POA, top, $3640, pants, POA, belt, $1315 and shoes, $1910. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead

AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, Mock has about 20 projects on the go. In the space of our phone call, he covers off at least five. The first is his fashion brand Wahine, which he launched in 2022. It’s a love letter to the women of Hawaii, because, as Mock explains, “women run [my] life”.

“My mother and my sister . . . they’re my rocks. So it’s just like an ode to them.” The brand is also inspired by Hawaii more broadly – the people, the landscape, the way of life.

Fashion trends specific to Oahu also shape Wahine’s aesthetic. Mock tells me about one particular trend that was big when he was a kid. “All the super gnarly surfer guys that would beat you up on the beach would cut their shirts in half so they would lay just under their nipples. It was like a mega cut-off shirt, but it was these big burly surfer dudes wearing it. That was the steez back then,” he laughs. “It’s funny, because it’s kind of catching on again, but now people would associate it with women, but it was like the biggest dudes that surf huge waves – they were wearing these crazy crop tops.”

He’s also big into collaborating with friends, especially those with brands from Hawaii. “There’s so many great designers coming out of Hawaii right now,” he says, listing Matt Bruening and Rocket Ahuna as two of his favourites. Recently, he was in Rottnest Island, near Perth, for the launch of Wahine’s collaboration with streetwear brand StreetX. While there, he visited Rottnest Island. “We went to see some quokkas,” he says. “They just roam around the whole island. It’s so sick.”

Evan Mock Esquire Australia
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt, $6465, and pants, POA. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead

We jump from the quokkas to the skate park he’s designing in collaboration with Tony Hawk, as part of the former pro skater’s Skatepark Project. The ethos behind the project is to build safe and inclusive skate parks for disadvantaged kids, and this particular park is being built near the famous surf break of Hale‘iwa Beach Park, right next to where Mock went to preschool.

“Growing up skating in Hawaii and knowing what skateboarding has given to me throughout my life, it was a no-brainer. It’s gonna open the doors for so many kids that can’t make it to the skate parks on the other sides of the island,” he says, referring to the concentration of parks in Waikiki. “It’s a dream of mine. Maybe I’ll get to cut the ribbon or something.”

He entered the public eye on a skateboard, shirtless, with FUCHSIA HAIR and a DIAMANTÉ stuck to his tooth

Mock also has a film coming out later this year – his second acting project, after playing Aki, the youngest son of an Australian right-wing media mogul, in the 2021 Gossip Girl reboot. Based on a bestselling young adult book series of the same name, the film is called Marked Men. Mock says a big part of why he signed on was Nick Cassavetes’ direction – the American auteur is behind tear-jerkers including The Notebook and My Sister’s Keeper. “He’s an actor’s director,” says Mock with the assurance of a Hollywood veteran. Mock describes his character, Jet Teller, as “a modern day rockstar”. “He goes with the flow. He DJs, he sings and he plays guitar. He’s very tattooed. He likes to have fun. So I felt like I related to him pretty easily.”

The structure of acting is something Mock enjoys. “It’s so unlike my actual life,” he observes. He also finds it challenging. “When you’re outta your comfort zone, you learn a lot about yourself. You just try to do the best you can.” I ask what he’s learned about himself recently. “Sometimes . . . I think I’m too nice,” he says. “Coming from Hawaii and moving to New York . . . people there are pretty cold sometimes. But that’s just how they are. It’s normal.”

Evan Mock Esquire Australia
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello jacket, POA, top, $2645, and pants, POA. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead

For Mock’s Esquire photoshoot, he wore all Saint Laurent, as one of the brand’s ambassadors. “Honestly, the clothes just fit me really well,” he says, when I ask what he loves most about the brand. He started working with the French house shortly after he burst onto the scene, filming and directing a video of his friends wearing the brand in his backyard. “I’ve probably been working with them longer than any other brand.”

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt, $2810, pants, POA and sunglasses, $840. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead
“Everything I do outside of Hawaii is for HAWAII. I’m BRINGING IT BACK to what raised me”
Evan Mock Esquire Australia
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello top, $3640. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead

Before I know it, we’re talking about a festival Mock is hoping to hold in Hawaii, either this year or next. “It’s my first festival, I’m super excited about it,” he says, his chill voice entering a more animated gear. He describes things like a pop-up with his friend’s brand Girls Don’t Cry, a communal beach clean-up, restaurant deals and VIP experiences with artists. “It’s basically ’cause me and my friends all want to hang out in Hawaii together. But we’re gonna make it work at the same time.” Those friends? “It’s going to be Dominic Fike, Omar Apollo and Daniel Caesar headlining.” Only three of the biggest names in music right now. “We’re gonna try and have all their sets intertwined with each other. So Dom will come out and do a song with Omar, and then Daniel will come out and do a song with Dom . . . just a different experience for the people of my hometown that you can’t have anywhere else in the world.”

Evan Mock Esquire Australia
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello top, $3640. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead

MOCK’S YOUNG CAREER has had many chapters, most of which can be defined by his hairstyle at the time, and what he wore to the Met Gala (there was the masked Thom Browne look at the 2021 event; the lemon yellow corseted suit by Brooklyn brand Head of State that he wore in 2022). But this current chapter is less defined by his hairdo (though the braided rat tail really is something), and more by his desire to give back to his hometown and its people.

“I wanted to leave so that, one day, I could bring the people I meet back to Hawaii. Everything that I do outside of Hawaii is for Hawaii. I’m bringing it back to what raised me,” he says, when I put the theme of this chapter to him. “I needed to leave Hawaii; I couldn’t wait to leave Hawaii. I want to inspire kids to get out and see more for themselves. To see the rest of the world . . . and hopefully, they can use me as an example.”

For those who belong to a generation where occupations can be packaged into neat labels, it might be difficult to understand what, exactly, Evan Mock does. It’s a question he gets asked regularly, to the point where, in the past, Mock would joke he doesn’t actually know the answer. But I wonder if by now, he’s found comfort in the ‘not really knowing’.

“There’s pros and cons to it, for sure,” he says. “I wear a lot of hats and it’s sometimes hard to balance it all – well, most times it’s hard to balance everything – but it’s what keeps me sane. It’s what keeps me busy and creative.

“I think it comes down to always having to reinvent myself, in a way. But I like that. And I think when you’re young, you want to try as many things as you can. Sure, having no title sometimes is scary. But right now, I think we’re doing okay.”

I can tell he’s smiling as we say goodbye. He tells me to take care, then adds, “Freelance for life”.

Evan Mock Esquire cover
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt, $1815, pants, $2480, and shoes, $1910 (worn throughout); Evan’s own jewellery worn throughout. Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca. Styling: Grant Woolhead

Photography: Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca
Styling: Grant Woolhead
Grooming: Scott Mahan

Evan Mock is Esquire Australia’s June 2024 digital cover star. This shoot also appears in the winter 2024 issue of Esquire Australia. Find out where to buy it here

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