Hustling with Nick Hissom

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Hustling with Nick Hissom

The glamour and beauty of fashion is the epitome of people’s perception of the industry behind it. There is never a shortage of gorgeous models to strut the catwalk, or dazzling creations that only the most talented of people (designers, primarily) can dream into reality. From flaming shoes, not unlike those put out by designer Miuccia Prada, to the ethereal designs of the late Alexander McQueen, fashion intends to surprise and astound.

Nick sitting front row at the Penn Fashion Week fashion show. Photography by Andrew Reiter.

Then, there’s the other side of the fashion industry. It is no less glamorous or beautiful, but it has a stronger stance in reality. What is the reality of the fashion industry? Bluntly put: hustle and bustle. During Penn Fashion Week, we caught up with Nick Hissom, a 19 year-old Ivy League student who balances a modeling and music career alongside his academics. It is no surprise, then, that his style inspiration comes from his peers. “When I was growing up, I was always told what to wear,” Nick recalls. He then proudly continues, “By entering the fashion industry and going off on my own, I was able to finally dress exactly the way I wanted to all the time.” He does, indeed.

In a world dominated by designer brands and flashy labels, Nick appreciates fashion solely for its aesthetics, and places no importance in knowing whom someone is wearing but, rather, how they wear it. He says of models’ sense of style, “They had a relaxed vibe and they never dressed showy, they never showed brands even if they were wearing them. So I kind of admire that and adopted elements of their style, and put my own spin on it.”

From Interview Magazine April Issue. Photography by Gregory Harris.

Before he was able to observe how his fellow models dressed, Nick was just a regular, albeit privileged, teenager with a Facebook account. The social networking site proved to be a hunting ground for talent scouts looking to track down individuals with potential in modeling—individuals like him. No sooner had he been scouted than he began shooting for world-renowned photographer Kai Z Feng, who has shot the likes of Eva Mendes and Katy Perry—a miniscule portion of his extensive celebrity portfolio. Nick also started modeling for Tommy Hilfiger, with whom he has a very friendly relationship. Making rounds at fashion weeks all over the world also helped Nick gain traction, as you can always spot him sitting front row at shows, alongside pals Harry and Peter Brant.

A jetsetter by definition, Nick did not slow down as soon as his career started taking off, “I kept building on that success and now I’m at a really good point and starting to pursue other interests in music and other things like that.” When faced with the suggestion that he works harder than other Penn students, Nick politely waves it off, “I think that everyone at Penn is such a driven and ambitious person that everyone is busy with something, and whether it’s more direct like me leaving campus five days a week to model and travel,” he continues, “it doesn’t have to be as direct as that but it could take up the same amount of time.”  As he elaborated on how hard Penn students worked, he was most impressed with Penn Fashion Week, which he praised for providing Penn students with a creative outlet in the form of something they loved.

As a matter of fact, this year’s Penn Fashion Week took place from March 26 to March 30, allowing for a 5-day celebration of different aspects of fashion. We had an interesting conversation with Nick earlier during Penn Fashion Week about doing what you love. One of the events taking place over the week was a publishing panel featuring Eva Chen of Teen Vogue, who also spoke about doing what you truly love, despite pressure, as Nick had faced when he initially conferred what he wanted to do to his parents.

Nick chatting with fellow students during Penn Fashion Week. Photography by Pascale Tam.

She recounted telling her parents that she was going to work at Teen Vogue versus pursuing a more conventional career path, “My mom didn’t speak to me for months,” she recalled. Ultimately, she gave in to her passion, as did Nick, and is now the Beauty and Health Director/Special Projects Director for Teen Vogue. Her career choice has given her the chance to shoot with Nicki Minaj, talk to Beyoncé, and interview a puppet-like Lady Gaga in a Tokyo hotel room. Nick, an individual who chose what he loved as his career, is clearly on a path to do things that are just as fantastic.

As someone who is on track to do fantastic things and be surrounded by people who both strive to be successful and that have achieved an enormous amount of success over their lives, Nick believes success in any industry comes from the same place. “If you’re confident in your abilities and what you can do, people will want to be around you so that they can also pick up on that energy,” he shares, “Just like at a party, you have friends that you want to bring and you know that they’ll mingle with everyone and have a great time and everyone’s going to like them.” Nick exerts that very same energy. When he stopped by Penn Fashion Week, a gaggle of girls always seemed to form around him—he took it all in stride.

Nick at the Crillon Ball in Paris. Shot by Angelo Pennetta for Teen Vogue.

If one were to see him interact with those girls, Nick would seem like a typical college student. However, a very brief mention of a Teen Vogue photograph shot by Angelo Pennetta of him at the Crillon Ball (think debutante ball of the global elite) in Paris is enough to make anyone think otherwise, “The photographer, Angelo Pennetta, is a friend of mine,” he shares, “I met him at Sun Valley of all places, probably the most relaxed, low-key place on earth.” Not many Penn students can draw a world-renowned photographer from their list of friends, yet it is evident that knowing high-profile individuals has only strengthened his assertion that he is no different from other Penn students. As he recounts the Angelo Pennetta anecdote, the faintest of smiles can be seen on his face, probably wondering, “Is this real life?”

The College sophomore, a history major, is now finding inspiration in music and intends on making it a part of his work. He has collaborated with the best in the industry and, as he reveals, “I’m in the pop/house market, and I’m going on tour this summer.” The tour will be a culmination of effectively balancing travel, modeling, long hours at the studio, and college life. If anybody knows how to hustle, Nick Hissom does.

— Dan Ortiz

 Taken from the Wharton Retail & Fashion Blog









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