How TikToker and Gucci model Calum Harper is putting the fun back into the fashion industry

By J'Nae Phillips

Published Mar 31, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

The fashion scene is typically dominated by highly curated Instagram grids and other aesthetically pleasing social media feeds, leaving little to no room for content creators to veer off course. And yet, in an attempt to open people’s eyes and minds, and broaden their understanding of the industry, a wave of new creators are flipping the script and letting people in on all of the fashion tidbits they didn’t know they needed to know.

Enter Calum Harper, the 20-year-old model and TikToker taking the industry by storm. Harper’s audience is lapping up his every word. He currently has 1.4 million followers on TikTok and over 100,000 on Instagram, and for good reason. His humorous approach to content is giving his eagle-eyed audience an insight into what being a model who gets to travel the world is actually like.

@calumharper18

An ACTUAL model adventure omg #model #japan #modeling

♬ original sound - Calum Harper

Breaking down the fashion industry’s barriers

The fashion industry is usually observed from a distance, leaving those who aren’t involved in it somehow with little knowledge about what goes on behind closed doors. The glamour, the star appeal, and the huge scene that fashion encompasses are all out of reach for ordinary folk—but creators like Harper are breaking down the industry’s gatekeeping nature one video at a time.

Harper got his start in the modelling industry at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, though he shared that his childhood dream was in fact to become an actor. He’s hoping modelling will help him get there.

“During lockdown, I was crazy bored. So I thought ‘Hmm, what’s a way of getting my face out there? Oh, modelling.’ So I applied to all the agencies in London and very fortunately, I got accepted into one,” Harper told SCREENSHOT.

It didn’t take long for his burgeoning modelling career to take off either. This past fashion month—February 2023—saw Harper make his debut on the runway. Despite the fact that being a model during Fashion Week is probably one of the most stressful jobs out there, the content creator says he thrives in the chaos: “I love running around and having lots of things that need to be done. Being busy in an industry like this is an absolute honour and so I think that’s why I embrace it so much when I am.”

Fashion month may be a whirlwind but Harper isn’t taking his foot off the pedal. He walked for Ludovic de Saint Sernin at Paris Fashion Week, and manifested walking on the Gucci runway.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ludovic de Saint Sernin (@ludovicdesaintsernin)

As for a dream brand he’d like to work with? Well, Gucci (again), Prada and Saint Laurent are on the cards. Or, as he puts it: “My dream campaign is any campaign that gets put up in airports. I don’t know why, but I always walk around looking at the big campaigns. I think they’re so cool!”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Calum Harper (@calumharper18)

Combatting fashion fatigue, one TikTok at a time

At a time when content remains king, Harper is the fashion creator of the moment. He’s managed to grow his loyal following by taking a humorous approach to content that brings people all the lolz instead of looking down on them—whether that’s a video about being a model in Japan “posing his ginger ass off,” his most embarrassing model story or revealing what model interactions are really like at castings.

@calumharper18

@Kit Price The “what agency are you with?” is an ABSOLUTE necessity #fyp #viral #modeling #calumharper #modelcasting

♬ original sound - Calum Harper

Harper is putting the fun back into fash-un and stands out in an otherwise overwhelming content landscape. “I do like to think that I might be ‘putting the fun back into fashion’ with my videos, but in all honesty, it was never my intention,” he explains. “I just wanted to show people what I was up to during my day and try to be positive.”

Fans of the content creator will recognise his iconic run and his “yep yep yep” tagline which has become a mantra of sorts. Harper’s carving out a unique online persona through quirks that come from a genuine place. “I have a lot of weird little phrases that I like to dish out during a cheeky vlog and I find it interesting that ‘yep yep yep’ was the one that got the most interest. I think the combination of all of these strange little things I do during my vlogs is what has helped me forge my identity online.”

Alongside his modelling gigs, the vlogger path Harper has found himself on is one that’s leading to millions of views. “My most viewed TikTok video is a vlog I made in Target when I went to New York City for Fashion Week. It currently sits at 20.2 million views and 4.3 million likes,” Harper says. “I think it did so well because in the video I saw many things that I recognised from watching American TV shows or films as a kid. And fortunately, people saw my reactions to things like that quite funny!”

@calumharper18

Target? Completed it mate #nyc #target #targetrun

♬ original sound - Calum Harper

The diary of a model

The life of a model is different from one week to the next, and despite Harper having made quite a few videos on the ins and outs of his career, his followers are still requesting more content on what it’s like to be a model in 2023. As Harper told me, “A lot of the vlogs that I post are around the subject of what it’s like to be a model. And my main intention with this is to genuinely show what it’s like and try to be as transparent and honest as possible.”

As his modelling career progresses, Harper hopes to travel more with work and show his audience different countries, cultures and experiences that they may not otherwise get to see. And all through a unique fashion lens that’s light-hearted and welcoming.

Blending in was never on the cards for Harper, and as his career continues to develop at a rapid speed, he’s taking his followers along for the ride.

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