L.A. sunsets, bare footprint shadows, crashing waves and golden sand. Feel the Venice breeze. Haden McKenna at Two Management LA gets to live this picturesque life. Being outside is when he feels at ease, when he is at his happiest. A lifelong board sportsman, Haden grew up with the sea to his left and wide pavements to his right. He skates and he surfs, his tanned skin and golden hair bleached by time spent outdoors, falling almost too perfectly for it be an unkept mistake.
Photographed for Boys by Girls online in a beautifully raw outdoor shoot by Nicola Collins
, together with stylist Teena Collins she captures the skater's casual aesthetic in a ray of vintage clothing. Haden carries with him a refreshing, organic outlook on life. The simplicity of his appreciation for mother nature reminds you to take a second and look around at the beauty in seasons and surroundings. Being outdoors offers peace and serenity to the LA skater, and who can blame him.
As we sit down to speak at Lake Hollywood CA, an eagle soars through the pink highlighted sky with graceful ease, surfing his own waves into a sky of freedom. The power of abandonment the bird has is magical, alone in the wide scape of nature, it epitomises being free. A beautiful sight, this is normality for Haden McKenna. “Yeah that’s an eagle, you always see them, they’re beautiful, and free”, the crispness of his deep Californian accent making every single word sound cool. Haden McKenna is a L.A. boy in and out, born and raised in Venice Beach California. He is a bird - flying through the city, skating the checkered streets of Los Angeles. Enjoying the freedom, the immunity, the silence.
A beacon for humanity, it is all about sensing freedom for Haden, whether it be the soft water on his skin, or the crisp wind on his face - mother nature provides him with latitude. Being cooped up indoors is an idea of hell for the 20 year old, a walking oxymoron to the majority of his technology obsessed generation, “it’s like a whole generation of staring at a screen, I’m not a big fan of all of that.” The below interview invites you further into these thoughts of the skaterboy with an old soul.
Above Left: DUSTY hat by GLADYS TAMEZ MILINERY necklace by LZZR
Above Right: Necklace by LZZR
Hello Haden McKenna.
When did you start skating and why do you love it so much?
I was nine years old. My dad is an original Z boy, so it’s kind of in my blood. When I was super young I was always into sports, and skating was the one sport where I was completely the centre of attention. I’ve always been super competitive and that was the sport I chose to follow through with.
Does it have anything to do with you being born and raised in Venice, California?
I’m definitely born into the lifestyle of that so it feels natural, but I think if I was born anywhere else, like in Arizona, I would definitely still love skateboarding. It just feels at home.
Do you feel more at ease on wheels than walking around?
If I’m gonna go somewhere I will definitely skate there. I haven’t walked in so long and I’ll skate before I take the bus. It’s exercise, it’s fun and you get to enjoy the outdoor scenery. I’m really big on seeing the outside and feeling the sunlight, it makes me feel good, and it makes me feel happy. So anytime I’m stuck inside in a car I feel in a hurry to get out. so that’s another reason I love to skate.
Above Left: Trainers by VANS, Socks by BROOKLYN PROJECTS
Above Right: Jeans by LEVIS, Sunglasses by RAEN, Necklace by LZZR
Above Left: Sweatpants and hat by STUSSY, Necklace by LZZR
Above Right: Trousers by DUSTY, Trainers by VANS, Socks by BROOKYLN PROJECTS
Spending time with you today has made me realise that you’re quite an old soul inside and you like nature; you like to respect nature.
100%. I feel like that comes from surfing, because before I skated I was a die hard surfer. With surfing you get in the ocean and you can’t think about anything else, because you might die. The ocean is mother nature and at any moment, mother nature can take you out. If you're not focused 100% on what you're doing, you won’t do it right, and you can’t afford to have errors in surfing. One thing that it taught me was how to be focused. The peace and serenity in surfing all adds to being free and realising that you’re your own person. There is no one telling you what to do or what to think about. I definitely took respect for the earth and mother nature from surfing.
Are you not scared of sharks?
I was when I first started. If you see a shark in L.A. waters then be scared, because it probably means they are travelling through somewhere and that means they are looking for food. If you’re in Hawaii, or in warm water somewhere, you don’t have to worry, because they’re well fed so they’re probably not looking for any food.
What music influences you?
With me I don’t go for lyrics, I go for the beat and instruments - music can bring you a lot of emotions. With skateboarding I need music to be in the right rhythm, it's all about the uplifting beats or instruments where you have to feel brave and bright and shining. If you wake up in a bad mood, you know there are certain songs that will make you feel better. I can’t say a particular genre or artist cus there's so much. I love music, I have a broad taste.
How long have you been modelling for?
Since last August, I love it. I feel like I almost had a de ja vu when I was introduced to it; like I’d been doing it already. I’ve changed a lot of things since I started, I’ve learnt a lot from this industry; like how people will say one thing to your face and something else behind your back. I take everything with a grain of salt and learn from my mistakes. Everything is a learning process and I wanna see how far I can take it.
What would your ideal day be?
Wake up, take a shower, go eat an amazing breakfast - because it’s the most important meal - then go skate, clean up again, then maybe draw or play instruments. I always try and adventure off into other little hobbies. I like to expand. I like to draw. When I was younger I was much better, but my creative side kind of went away. It comes out when I’m focused, but I don’t like to be inside so I don’t find myself doing it too much.
If you weren’t skating or surfing, what else do you love to do?
I’d like to circulate and do lots of different stuff everyday. There’s not much in the world for people to get attracted to and want to do everyday that doesn’t cost money. That’s the beauty about skating, it doesn’t cost a dollar at all.
What I love about skating and surfing is that when you’re doing it, you’re not looking at your phone. You’re absolutely disconnected from everything.
Exactly. I’m not a big fan of all of that, just look at what Apple have created, it’s like a whole generation of staring at a screen. The only reason I take my phone out with me is for music when I skate. If it didn’t have music on it I probably wouldn’t take it, because it’s pointless. Don’t get me wrong it definitely clears boredom, but at the same time it also creates boredom - it’s not that good. Yet at the end of the day, without the iPhones we wouldn’t have social media and everything so I guess it’s okay.
Above Left: Jeans by LEVIS, Hat by GLADYS TAMEZ MILLINERY, Necklace by LZZR
Above Right: Jeans by LEVIS, Trainers by VANS, Sunglasses by RAEN, Socks by BROOKLYN PROJECTS, Necklace by LZZR
Above Left: Shirt, Shorts, Cap by STUSSY, Necklace by LZZR
Above Right: Shirt, Trousers by FRISUR, Cap by STUSSY, Trainers by VANS, Socks by BROOKLYN PROJECTS
Above: Trousers by DUSTY, Hat by GLADYS TAMEZ MILINERY, Necklace by LZZR
GLADYS TAMEZ MILINERY
You can find Haden on Instagram.
Interview by Nicola Collins.
Words by Ede Dugdale.