Up-and-coming model John Economou is not only set to become the next top model, he was also discovered in the most incredible way. The homeless skateboarder and surfer was living rough on Venice Beach, California, when he met Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid who were filming a commercial in the area.
The two A-listers were having a picnic on the beach near where Economou, 20, was living, when he noticed a group of seagulls swarming around them. After approaching them to shoo the seagulls away, they struck up a conversation. Impressed with Economou’s good looks and interesting life story, Jenner and Hadid contacted top modelling agency Two Management who signed him instantly.
The Milwaukee-native left home at 19 to live the hippie-lifestyle whilst building up a modelling portfolio, despite being on good terms with his parents. And amazingly, even after his big break, Economou still chooses to sleep rough, living out of a rucksack containing just two changes of clothes and a toothbrush. The model earned the nickname ‘Romeo of Venice Beach’ as, when he’s not sleeping under the stars, he picks up girls and stays over at their house.
Economou explained how he didn’t realise who Jenner and Hadid were at first. It wasn’t until they suggested he take up modelling that it dawned on him that the two beauties were models too. After the chance meeting, he exchanged numbers with Ashleah Gonzalez, Jenner’s manager, who helped set him up with Two Management.
However, it turns out that Economou is no stranger to modelling. The skateboarder has been modelling since he was a baby, working in his hometown of Milwaukee and appearing in local TV commercials and catalogues. He then decided to drop out of college and move to California in order to pursue his dream career.
Talking about living on the beach, Economou says he knows how to handle himself. As a regular camper, the youngster says he enjoys being independent and living outdoors. And unlike most homeless people, he actually has a great relationship with his family and is free to go back anytime.
The model keeps in regular touch with manager Ashleah Gonzalez, although he has had no further contact with Jenner or Hadid. However, he hopes that he can make contact with the pair again to express his thanks, and perhaps even work with them in the future. He hopes that one day he will reach the same level of success as Jenner, who has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion including Chanel, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein and Givenchy.
‘I came out here for one reason and that’s to get that money and get that fame. I came from a nice house but I want to come up from the bottom, start from scratch, not from my parent’s money. I want that Lamborghini, that Ferrari you know exotic cars, big house. I’ve always had everything you could need but I want to take it to another level. That’s why I came out here. That’s what California is based on – following your dreams.’