Zack Lugo | The Need to be Freed and the Social Feed are Agreeable Bedfellows

Via Issue 189, The Besties Issue!

Photographed by

Max Montgomery

Styled by

David Gomez

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All clothing, jewelry, and accessories by MCM.

In a prior life, Zack Lugo was a butcher. For a year in his small hometown in Idaho, while building his TikTok empire, Lugo was schlepping meat, driving trucks, and quite literally seeing how the sausage gets made. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, this side of his life never made it on the feed. “My life started when I moved to California,” shares the 22-year-old model and content creator. “LA changed my life completely. No one is watching you close enough to care about what you are doing like in a small town. Everyone here wants to be different.”

Hanging on his wall is a row of painted skateboards, his first passion, and the reason he started creating on social media. “Growing up skateboarding, I always wanted to make skateboarding videos. It was right after high school,” he reflects. “I was working three jobs at the time, but I was also making the decision of whether to go to college or try content creation full time. I started making skateboarding videos for fun, and it grew from there.”

In our viral universe, it isn’t surprising to hear about people who post, only to wake up and find they’ve become TikTok superstars. For Lugo, that was not the case. “I really grinded for it.” At one point he was posting eight to nine times a day on the platform, and he soon amassed 1.5 million followers. Lugo looked to his mother as to what to do next. “My mom grew up in Laguna,” he reminisces, “and she always spoke about how beautiful California is.” Lugo was raised by a single mother, and understood how hard she worked for him. “I make her proud, but I also want to make her financially stable,” he shares. So with his biggest dreams in mind, Lugo packed up his car and drove 14 hours from one of the smallest towns in Idaho to one of the biggest cities in the world—Los Angeles—where his life was about to do a complete 180.

From flyover resident to bona fide jet-setter, Lugo just returned from Fashion Week in Milan and Paris, showing up for brands such as Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Rhude, KidSuper, Dior, and MCM. “This last fashion week was absolutely perfect,” he shares. And although he wasn’t walking the runway, he still managed to make a statement with his looks. He describes his style as ‘very relaxed skateboarder,’ but he is never afraid to elevate it “in a Harry Styles way...I do like to push myself to feel uncomfortable and try new things.”

Riding his bike to shows in the sunny weather, sporting an amazing outfit each day, his time in Europe couldn’t have gone better. “There are so many amazing things happening during fashion week,” Lugo describes, “but this time all the anxiety was gone. Everything flowed very well.” In line with his sense of fashion, his newest goal, which he is certain to achieve, is to deepen his modeling career. “That is my main goal,” he shares. “Modeling has changed my life completely. I genuinely love what I do now.”

Lugo has also tried his luck as a designer himself. In 2021, he launched his own streetwear apparel line Runaway Kid, an ode to the departure from his hometown. “Back in the day,” he explains of the origins of his first drop, “when I started doing dancing TikToks, there were these shirts that me and my friends would wear that had two different shirts sewn together in the middle...Style is a huge part of skateboarding, and I always wanted to make something my own, and that’s what we came up with.” While the initial iteration of Runaway Kid is no more, Lugo is hoping to breathe new life into the project, with the goal of expanding into jewelry one day.

As for his current content on TikTok, aside from the upgraded fashion and luxe backgrounds, he has remained true to his original voice, creating dynamic content that syncs with the fast moving trend-based platform. Lugo’s 10.8 million followers can expect the gems—dances, Get Ready With Me, Questions for Girls. “I have such broad content, I’ve done literally everything.” He just wants his audience to be able to continue to relate to him.

Tattooed across Lugo’s chest is a quote that he lives by: “Never Settle.” He explains, “It’s so cliche, but you never can settle with where you are in life. I may have a lot of followers, but I am still constantly trying to grow my platform.” He might have “made it,” but his determination is still active and the grind never stops. Lugo’s advice to anyone trying to start a career in social media resonates with his ideals—the only thing you need is consistency. “If you get it, it’s because you deserve it, so you just have to work hard.” And Lugo most definitely deserves it.

Photographed by Max Montgomery

Styled by David Gomez

Written by Costanza Falco Raez

Grooming: Nathaniel Dezan at Opus Beauty

Flaunt Film: Annika Chavez

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Zack Lugo, Flaunt Magazine, MCM Worldwide