interview by ELIYA WEINSTEIN

Numéro Netherlands Digital highlights Luca Fersko, a young creative reshaping the concept of entrepreneurship through his presence on social media. Luca fearlessly pursues inspiration and opportunities, transitioning from sharing fit pics to becoming a model for Next Models, crafting advertisements for renowned fashion brands, amassing millions of views on his videos, and launching his own label. Sharing memories and insights from his journey, Luca reveals the keys to his current achievements. He takes the spotlight in this fashion narrative, lensed by Torian Lewin.

You’ve followed quite a winding road to get to where you are now. How do you summarize your career as it stands now?

To summarize, my career now almost feels like it is at the end. God willing, it has just begun. It is a beautiful thing to think that at 15, 16 years of age I could have had an idea and seen the idea realized time and time again. My career in one neat tag line would be something like idea, execution, hindsight. Moving forward, on to the next.

You started becoming a public figure through YouTube and Instagram, but now you’ve modeled all over the world for some of the biggest brands working with Next Models and are currently making your video advertisements. How does this path compare to the ideas for your future that you had as a little boy? 

When I was a kid, when I was younger, and I thought of the future, I ultimately thought simply of having freedom. And that is something that I have been speaking with my friend Vladdy about the other day, the price to pay for your freedom. It seems like there could have been a more simple path for me. I could have taken a more conventional path, one that wouldn’t have been so foggy. Perhaps it could have been a little bit easier, but my freedom comes with a certain price, and it’s a lot. I don’t spend much time with my family, my nest, my unit, the people that I grew up with. My mother and my three siblings, I miss dearly. They live in Europe. I only get to see them once or twice a year, sometimes more, sometimes less. And that makes me very sad. 

So that’s one of the prices that I have to pay for my freedom, for my exploration in this world and on this path that I’m taking. I simply have to give up some things. In the same breath, as my buddy Frank would say, I get to live alone now. I’ve lived in warehouses, I’ve lived in office buildings, I’ve had some unconventional setups and it has not been easy. Still to this day, it is not easy. The road in front is still foggy and I wouldn’t change a thing. This is the road that I chose and I’m simply incredibly pleased. I think the young me from the past would be pretty damn stoked, so big high five to young Luca and looking forward to receiving that high five from older Luca when I am looking back on today in the future.

To what extent were these shifts between media and platforms conscious choices, compared to following what is being interacted with most? 

Actually, when I left YouTube, I had videos with millions of views and yet I chose to private them all. It wasn’t the gold rush, people were not leaving YouTube and going to Instagram. Both were existing and I made a decision, a conscious decision to private every video that I made, everything that got me to where I was today. I shut down my business pretty much at its peak. Was that a silly idea? I don’t know. As a businessman, it’s something that I could ponder. But at this very point in time, I look back on what I did and I see it as something that I wanted to do. 

And that’s the same way that I started my business. It’s something that I wanted to do and I did it. And anything that I’ve ever wanted to do, I’ve always been able to do, one way or another. And I will continue to do so. I did not leave for any drought on any platform. I left because I was insecure. I left because I looked at my work and looked at my 170 videos that I made, and I thought to myself I don’t want anybody looking at this anymore. And so I did what any artist wishes they could do, which is remove everything, wipe everything. Sometimes you have to start fresh and that’s simply a decision that I took and am grateful that I was able to make. A blank canvas. 

Imagine if you have to look at the same canvas. Eventually, you’re going to fill it up and you’re going to look for little cracks in little areas of the canvas to keep drawing into. And I wanted a new one. So what did I do? I put it in the storage unit and here we are today. I have many canvases and maybe soon I’ll do the same thing, delete this one and start fresh, kind of serendipitous.

boxers Talent’s Own

You are a New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan, but you have roots in Italy and spent time living there too. How do you feel time spent internationally contributed to who you are today?

Absolutely New Yorker, born and raised. The Knicks were my team. I’m happy to see them doing great again. I grew up running around Central Park, spending my time in Union Square after school. I grew up skateboarding in Midtown until 2 am. I grew up at 12th and A, I grew up at Tompkins Square Park. At a certain point, we moved to Italy after my father passed away in 2011 and we started fresh, just the same way that I privated all my videos. We started fresh and I restarted, and maybe that’s where the habit began. Sort of starting fresh and becoming new. I don’t know if that is something good or bad, that’s something I’ll have to speak to my therapist about. 

But for better, for worse, I think it was better. It gave me a whole new outlook on life, it gave me a whole new perspective on the world. I got to see a bunch of new different cultures, Eastern Europeans. I got to see Morocco, Tunisia, Poland, Ukraine. My first girlfriend who I met out there was from Moldavia. I didn’t even know of such a place before I met her. I got to meet Germans, French and Danish people. I got to simply be enveloped in a whole new side of the world for five years during very formative years of my life and I’m eternally grateful for that. I learned a new language, Italian. It opened the neural pathway of language into my brain. Now I understand Spanish a little bit. There are other languages that simply click and other things that just make sense for me. Italy has my heart, New York has my heart, and that’s that. Two of the best places in the world.

You went to C.F.P Centro Moda Canossa, a fashion design school in Italy. How has a deeper understanding of fashion helped your success as a model and fashion film maker?

To tell you the truth, I went there for six months and eventually started my YouTube videos and working on my short films and things alike, so I actually dropped out of the school. I did however learn the basics of sewing. I’m now far removed and to of practice, but I got to see some cool things.

I was one of two guys in the whole school And I was the only guy in my class, amongst 20 girls. It was interesting. They were very distracting and I think I was distracting them too. And so it was interesting. How do I think it’s shaped me? How do I think it’s made me see fashion differently or see the world differently? It’s certainly given me an inside scoop, perhaps on just some technical things. Certainly gave me a respect for the folks who make clothing and it actually has given me more of a head start in the building space. I find many connections to carpentry and woodworking, other passions of mine. It’s really given me just an appreciation for details and an appreciation for slow work. We live in an impatient time, so I’m grateful to have been able to take things slow and work with my hands. 

These are skills that you need if you’re making films, if you’re making furniture. And really, just about with anything. Gardening, raising a child, I assume. Frankly, anything that is laborious, anything that is tedious, I think is good for people. I loved my experience at C.M.C even though I was a bit embarrassed to be one of the only guys in the whole school. It wasn’t a big city and times were different, guys went to school to be engineers, not for fashion.

Your most recent and current projects consist of video ads for a lot of massive fashion companies. What is your process of inspiration and creation for these? How do you transfer your ideas into video? 

When you say something like that, that I make videos for some of the biggest brands, I still don’t really believe it and I don’t know when that will become real, but if you say so, I will believe you. Where do I get my inspiration for these things? I reckon I simply have a boatload of imagery floating through my mind. I have inspiration going back from some of my favorite TV shows as a kid, ‘Mythbusters’ being one of them. I always liked those shows. I loved ‘How It’s Made’, I loved the Discovery Channel growing up, and I get inspired by little things and I go down rabbit holes. Maybe one day it’s Johnny Cash, it could just be so simple as a song, it could be so simple as just my environment. Usually my space has a lot to do with it. What am I working with, what do I have at hand at the moment, how much money do I have, literally, what kind of materials am I working with? What was interesting to me at the time, is there a location that is so incredible that I want to build an ad just around the location. 

Oftentimes, it’s really a beautiful location or an interesting location. Do I want to stir things up, do I want to go with the status quo, do I want to go inside or outside of the box, what is my idea here? Usually, if something doesn’t get approved, I’m actually happy because it means that I did something so groundbreaking that the brand says that’s just too much for them. And frankly, that brings me pleasure. I want you to hire me because you want to shake things up. I’m not here to do things that are the status quo. These are my chances to experiment. I’ve made ads that have been denied. I haven’t shown them to anyone, but I still stand by them. I think certain things are brilliant and some are trash, that’s the name of the game. Positive or negative, your choice is how you spin it. 

You are working on a video about your experience with Wim Hof the iceman, as well as the Tipi you built in your office to combat ADHD. Where did these ideas come from, not just the story itself, but conceptually? 

These are two things that I’m working on at the moment. I met Wim Hof in 2018. I went to London and I went to one of his experiences. He hadn’t blown up yet and I took this chance to reach out. I found myself in an arena with 800 other people willing to do this breath work and these cold plunges and it changed my life. It really did. I started sobbing uncontrollably from the breath work and it’s like it unlocked a sack of trauma in my stomach. And from then on, I started going around preaching and telling everybody about what had happened and how amazing it was, and how they needed to do the same thing. It was obvious that six years later I’d make a documentary with the footage I had, plus plenty of my own research on breath work. I interviewed Wim and we spoke for an hour over the phone. I spoke to other breath coaches and tried all types of breathing exercises. It’s been an extensive study on the topic and the man himself, but mainly about my experience first hand. Stay tuned, it should be on my YouTube channel shortly. 

The video about the Tipi is something I built, like you said, to combat ADHD. I found that it was very hard for me to edit videos, especially these long documentaries, so this was sort of a coping mechanism to shield myself off from the outside world, even if the outside world is just my room. I get distracted easily, I wanted to be completely isolated and so I built a Tipi around my editing desk and the video will come out shortly. It’s a video about how I built it. I don’t want to give too much away, but I really do believe that you will enjoy them.

full look DOLCE & GABBANA

You’re still posting a lot on social media. How do you balance your work between posting casually and creating films and advertising? 

This is a question that’s very hard for me to answer. I’m still working out the kinks in my flow state. I mean, just for me to even answer these questions took me five, six days of finding the right balance of finding the right time, to be in the right state of mind. And now I’m laying in my backyard answering your questions on a voice note. And this is nothing that I rehearsed, I’m just doing them on the fly. Experimenting once again with my methods. 

So, how do I balance my work between posting casually and creating films and advertising? I don’t consider any of it work, I just consider it all sometimes a little bit annoying, but also freaking amazing. These are the emotions that you go through when you make things that you care about. And so what’s going to happen is that a lot of the time you’re going to get tired of your work, you’re going to feel like you don’t want to do it. You’re going to feel like you’re doing it for the market or that you’re selling out. There’s so many factors that go into making art in the landscape of today. Social media is really just a place for flexing, social media is a place for beautiful people, social media is a place for the ‘best of the best’. The rest is sort of like not interesting for the algorithm and this is a big problem that we’re facing today. That’s why I think a lot of platforms like Patreon are very interesting to me, that’s something I’m exploring. Look at Instagram, what do they promote? They promote beauty, fake beauty. You just have to keep your head above it all.

You’re also working on your own brand called Lino, inspired by your Italian grandfather. Where did the idea to create your own products for fashion come from? The focus is mainly on boxers now, why start there? 

About seven years ago, I was in Italy. I was visiting my mom and I was laying in this twin size bed that I sleep in when I go to Italy. There was a sheet that I was laying on and I remember this sheet from when I was a little boy. My sister had a pink one, I had a blue one. As I was laying on it, I was thinking “Wow, these would make just the best boxers”, so I took the bed sheet from my mom. I went to Berlin and I remember I was at a hotel and trying to make a pattern and sew this underwear together. That was the start and then it all snowballed from there. 

Seven years later, now I’m working with a good buddy of mine, Jordan, and he is making the pattern. He’s far more skilled than I am technically. We’re going into production soon. We’re still perfecting it, we’re now at maybe round seven or eight of the sample. The product is juts one of the many that I hope to launch with this brand. Lino is my grandfather, he was an architect, an Italian man who lived to be 95 years old. He played billiards every day at the same time, 5 pm. When he couldn’t walk anymore, he used two walking sticks like he was going on a hike. He would walk around Trento, Italy, on the cobblestone roads, making the noise, tick tack. That’s sort of the inspiration for the brand. You just keep moving, no matter what it is. 

I want this brand to be active, I want this brand to be really just about keep going forward. No matter what, you keep moving, you don’t stop. As mentioned, my grandfather was an architect, so I want everything to be very precise, I need all the lines to be perfect. I need everything to be structured, like an architect would make. Lino built bridges and roads in Italy, and you don’t just build a bridge with lines that aren’t perfect. I don’t intend to make it sloppy and so like an architect, I want to make the clothing. I want everything to be organic. I want it to be good for you, for your health. I think they’ll be brilliant and I think you’ll love them.

Other than creating content, advertisements and your own brand Lino, you’re always active, chasing adventure, as well as exploring new artistic formats. How do you balance everything, and how do you share your energy between each endeavor?  

If I could do anything in life, it would be exercise, eat and stretch. If I could just do that, I would do that my whole life. And that’s kind of what I do. All the other stuff is just extra to me. I think everything has a flow, especially when you’re talking about art. I mean, it’s so much about how you feel and it’s very important how you eat. If you want to feel the right way, you got to eat the right way and you got to move the right way. Your back can’t hurt. You can’t sit in front of a computer If your back hurts. If your back hurts, your head hurts. If your head hurts, you’re not going to be thinking straight. And so number one, the most important thing to me is food. That’s how I find my balance. Food, exercise, movement and stretching and healing my gut, healing everything. Your emotional state, your mental state, everything comes from your gut, so heal your gut and you’ll be able to balance more in life. These are the things that I want to talk about. I can go more in depth, I have developed techniques through my personal research of my body. I think I can help people and I will.

Do you have any dreams you haven’t chased yet? 

I have many dreams I haven’t chased yet. Thank you for asking me this question, it’s a brilliant question, one that provokes a lot of thought for my future, which is something that I often don’t do. I try to stay present if I can and try not to dwell in the past too much, so thinking about the future is always a good thing for me. I just want to become the best man that I can be. I’ve made mistakes, huge ones. I want to become somebody with class, somebody with dignity. I am chasing the next, better Luca. I want people to look up to me. I already feel like I got everything I ever wanted. I think good health is everything, all the rest is extra. You must forget your limits, you must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. Keep moving forward.

photographer & stylist TORIAN LEWIN