Alex Ordonez on H8MN, No Apologies Accepted, And Kanye
Alex Ordonez is the kind of kid who wakes up in L.A. and, a few hours later, finds himself at dinner with Kanye West and A$AP Rocky (among others). He’s got that thing that people chase after; that creative magic that lands him right where he’s supposed to be, at exactly the right time. Maybe it’s just luck, or maybe it’s a talent for intersecting opportunity with interest—call it what you will. Either way, this breakout model and designer consistently finds himself winning; with a viral sweatshirt that’s about to land him in British Vogue (and a boutique in Tokyo), a modeling career that took off when he was still a teen, and the aforementioned star-studded dinner…whatever the situation, it’s always his game.
We caught up with Alex and his photographer friend Emon Toufanian (who also happens to have a hand in much of Alex’s work in creative direction and styling) for a rainy day shoot on the Milk rooftop, followed by a meeting of the minds over much-needed warm coffee. Peep the polaroids in the slideshow and check the full interview below.
I’d love to start with your own brand, H8MN. Can you tell us about the hoodies you’re wearing?
Yeah, so the brand is Hate Me Now Love Me Later, abbreviated to H8MN. The meaning behind that is kind of like cutting off toxic relationships and not looking back.
I kind of started it for fun just like playing around, and “No Apologies Accepted” was one of the quotes that I used to express my feelings because of relationships and stuff like that. So I took a trip to Europe and passed them out to friends in London then it started taking off and people wanted them. After that we flew over to Paris and then we got with the youth culture of Paris, which was awesome, and we took photos. I started gaining attention from some blogs in Europe, and then I came back to the US and released it and got a tons of orders.
Did the site just crash?
Well I had to shut the site down when it got to be maybe 100 orders, to take a break and because it was way too much. But yeah, it was something I did not expect. I did not expect that. It was really exciting. Vogue wrote to me about a month ago after I released my hoodie, and I woke up the day after my birthday to an email from them.
Wow, so your hoodies are going to be in British Vogue? That’s amazing.
Fingers crossed, yes. They asked me for the Summer/Spring 2017 line for H8MN and that was when I was like, “Damn, I’m just doing this for fun but I guess I’m gonna have to take it serious and go with it.” It’s something I’ve been wanting to do, but because everyone has a brand now, everyone wants to be a model, everyone wants to be a creative director…I didn’t want it to get too serious. I didn’t wanna be in that category. But I guess time will tell, and actions speak louder than words, you know?
It kind of sounds like it’s meant to be—like the universe is conspiring to make it happen.
Exactly. I’m sitting there and thinking like, “Wow, what did I get myself into?” And hey that’s it—I’ve just got to keep working and getting stuff done.
And then, what’s going on with the Nubian boutique in Tokyo?
Yeah, so I received an email from Nubian—they saw the hoodies and stuff online and they were really interested in it, so I collaborated on a sweatsuit with them for a special color wave that should be released soon.
Ok, so you have a million things going on at once. How do you balance everything?
Hm, just time managing and trying to get everything put together. I just try to get up early, make sure everything is done, send out emails…most of the time Emon will help me out with stuff because I have so many things to do.
What keeps you motivated amidst the stress of everything going on?
Just accomplishing what I have, and trying to get it done and knowing that it’s all worth it.
Any favorite memories or experiences so far in your career?
Yeah, I actually had a really good experience last year in L.A.—I had a shoot for a Guess campaign, for an A$AP Rocky collaboration, and I went over there and ended up hanging out with everyone and having dinner with Kanye West…so that was something really unexpected, you know? It was a really great experience.
Yeah, it was a great experience. I did not expect that. I didn’t know he was there in the first place, so it was me, Rocky, Ian, and Kanye sitting at one table. That was really cool.
Was it just surreal? I wouldn’t know what to say.
Yeah, that was really cool. I was with them and spoke to them about old hip-hop and Kanye started talking about his mom passing away and Rocky talked about Yams and overall it was a great experience. We did a bunch of things like riding bikes and going to the movies…it was amazing.
What are you and Emon working on right now for the rest of 2017?
We are working with some brands to shoot some stuff and creative direct some stuff for them. We want young influencers in it and to merge them with actual models.
Emon: Yeah—editorial collaborations with brands, creating content for them, and styling. Basically the old editorial approach but done family way, with models that are friends and friends that are friends and just creating something unique.
Yeah, because I feel like a lot of young influencers do make an impact on the brand, which is the whole reason brands are using all these cool kids in the first place.
Absolutely. You can make cool clothes but if cool kids aren’t wearing them, it’s tough.
Exactly! That’s what I’m saying.
Images courtesy of Emon Toufanian
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