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John Economou
John Economouvia

Kendall and Gigi turn homeless skater into model

John Economou signs with a modelling agency after a chance meeting with Jenner and Hadid on Venice Beach

Many models come from humble beginnings, plucked from obscurity and thrust headlong into the world of fashion. Twenty-year-old Milwaukee-native John Economou is one such model. Since moving to LA to pursue his dreams at the age of 19, he’s been sleeping rough on Venice Beach in LA, carrying with him a small rucksack packed with two spare outfits and a thin sheet to protect him from the elements. However, in something of a rags-to-riches story, his fortunes changed following a chance meeting with former Dazed cover star Kendall Jenner and fellow model Gigi Hadid, an encounter which resulted in him being signed to a modelling agency.

“I was just chilling on the beach and watching the water, minding my own business and then I see these people come over,” says Economou, recounting his story to The Mail Online. “They sat pretty close but not too close and they started having a picnic... Then I saw seagulls swarming around the girls because they brought the food out and I started walking over there to shoo them away. One of the girls said to me, ‘You’re cute’, so I turned around and we struck up conversation. I didn’t realise who I was speaking to at first and it finally clicked who it was – it was Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, actor Ansel Elgort, and Kendall’s manager, Ashleah Gonzales.” As it emerged, Jenner, Hadid and Elgort were on the beach to film a commerical.

“We were just talking and they said I should take up modeling here in LA. I told them my story, I told them how I was a model back home (referring to his previous modelling work which includes catalogues and local TV commercials), and how I came here to follow my dream and try get an agency, how I’m living the hippy life, living out on the beach crashing on the sand right now. They said they could help me out and get me an agency and they got me with Two Management – the agency I signed with.”

Since signing, he’s chosen to remain living on the streets, though he refutes the word ‘homeless’, preferring the term ‘traveller’ instead. His agency is a reputable one, counting Nicolas Ghesquière’s pink-haired Louis Vuitton muse Fernanda Ly and longtime Dolce & Gabbana favourite Adam Senn among the talent it represents. As for his own modelling ambitions, Economou has set his sights high. “I want to be the top – I want to be top of the top with Kendall... I’m confident in myself if I can get there.”