The teen-dream sensation who’s trying his hardest to #breaktheinternet.
Taken from the Fame Issue of Wonderland.
Blue denim jacket by LEVI’S, beige cotton knit roll neck by TOPMAN and blue denim jeans by RE/DONE
Cameron Dallas is at Louisiana Airport en route to LA for Wonderland’s cover shoot. I’ve finally managed to schedule some quality time with the wildly busy 21-year-old social media sensation and we’re deep in discussion about his rapid rise to Internet fame. Suddenly, Dallas is told by an air stewardess that he’s about to miss his flight. Panic ensues. He makes a dash for the plane, still clutching his phone. “They were waiting just for me,” Dallas exclaims between hurried breaths. “I’ve made it!” he shouts with evident relief. The line goes dead. It’s pretty convenient to have fame on your side, right? Andy Warhol may have prophesised that everyone would be world-famous for 15 minutes, but it took Cameron Dallas just six seconds, the duration of a Vine video clip, to propel himself into the public eye.
You may not have heard of Dallas, or “Cam” as he introduces himself, but online he’s undoubtedly a Big Deal: just ask one of his 28 million followers, spanning Twitter, Vine, YouTube and Instagram. Dallas describes social media as “fun”, but this was no chance success on his part. Setting up his Instagram account back in 2011 (contrary to what he describes to me as “popular belief ”, it was Insta-fame that kicked off his career rather than Vine), Dallas knew he wanted to use it to market himself. “I studied the platform, I learnt what it meant to have followers and how to create my own brand, which was really cool to me. I wanted to be my own boss.” Gradually, Dallas’ Insta- followers crept from 200 to 1,000 to 100,000 and, realising the potential of his venture, he decided to bring his newfound following across to Twitter and YouTube. “I made specific content for each platform,” he explains to me. “I’m very analytical, I studied it all in depth.” Studying? I wish the same could be said of my approach to drunken Instagram selfies.
Dallas’ social accounts are, contrary to the serious character I meet over the phone, fun. In the run-up to our call, I visit his YouTube channel. My favourite clip involves Dallas, his mum, lots of silly string, a coconut shell bra and hundreds of boxes of fanmail. The video is perfectly edited, with text overlay, witty song interjections and slow-mo dancing. It has over five million views. Was Internet domination always the plan I wonder? “I definitely tried to make it happen, but I do think with this generation… I think nowadays it’s a lot more obtainable for people to actually go and do what they want — they have a bigger and better chance of achieving it on their own.”
Generational or not, Dallas has a business mind that far exceeds his age, something which is evident when he analyses his success. “Vine was really, really hot when it came out,” he explains. “I moved my main posting over there and took advantage of it.” His six-second videos are pretty hilarious – if you’re into pranks, that is. He’s a goofy Beano character for the Insta-gen: a Bash Street Kid up to no good and available in a variety of #filters.
With a fanbase made up of predominantly teen girls, it can’t hurt that he looks like a T4 version of Justin Bieber, too.Were teenage girls the demographic he’d intended to appeal to? “I don’t see who else I could target myself at,” he responds swiftly.“It’s not like I go on loads of boring camping trips with my dad.” Ouch.
“The fans”, as he refers to them, are very important to Cameron Dallas. It shows: he spends a large amount of his time engaging with them – be it on Twitter or at MAGCON, a meet-and-greet convention for social media kids.“MAGCON gives fans the opportunity to talk to us, to have a conversation and really get to know us on a deeper level,” Dallas explains. His Twitter is peppered with fan retweets and replies, and he’s even created his own trending hashtag #followmecam to encourage fans to tweet at him for a chance to be followed by their crush.“Without my fans I wouldn’t be anything,” he observes. “I mean they give me what I have, so I kind of have to give them what they deserve and more, you know?”
Without prompting, Dallas launches into a wild-eyed yarn involving thousands of screaming followers chasing him down the streets of Manhattan, only to be mistakenly thrown against a wall by an undercover policeman. It wasn’t a lone incident: during Milan Men’s Fashion Week this January, there was a mob scene outside the Park Hyatt hotel, where Dallas was staying, of such magnitude that it launched a state of emergency in the city. So what is it about Dallas that causes such uproar? I wonder how he defines himself. “I definitely wear a lot of different hats…” Dallas muses.“ I don’t even know what I would call myself, maybe an ‘influencer’?” His publicist interjects boldly with “Probably Cameron Dallas!” They both LOL. “I mean, I’m very into what I do for my fans, I’m very into marketing and coming up with campaign ideas, all that stuff is really fun for me,” Dallas continues. “I’ve done acting, I’ve done music — I have kind of done everything.”
He’s kind of right. Just three years out of high school and Dallas has not only gained a monumental social following and won three Teen Choice awards, he’s starred in as many films, most notably 2014’s Expelled, a Feris Bueller’s Day Off-esque flick where he fittingly plays a high school prankster. He’s also released a single, “She Bad”, complete with Drake-style lyrics (“She a good girl, but you know she bad though/ Just keep shaking that thing for me”). Next, Dallas plans to conquer the fashion industry and he’s already part-way there, if a front row seat at the Calvin Klein men’s show in Milan is anything to go by.And with a following like Dallas’s, what brand would turn him down?
Despite Cameron Dallas’s adorable Brat Pack looks, it’s his instinctive understanding of the platforms he dominates — combined with a natural penchant for self-promotion — that makes him stand apart from the hundreds of thousands of genetically-blessed teenagers trying their hardest to #breaktheinternet. If anyone’s going to succeed, our money is on Dallas.
Tan suede jacket by LEVI’S from a selection at LOT, STOCK, & BARREL, blue denim jeans by RE/DONE and white cotton boxer briefs by CALVIN KLEIN
Black leather jacket by COACH, yellow vintage Harley Davidson t-shirt from a selection at LOT, STOCK, & BARREL and blue denim jeans by RE/DONE
White cotton cardigan by THE ELDER STATESMAN, blue denim jeans by RE/DONE and white cotton briefs by CALVIN KLEIN. Black leather jacket by COACH, yellow vintage Harley Davidson t-shirt from a selection at LOT, STOCK, & BARREL and blue denim jeans by RE/DONE
White and blue printed cotton vintage t-shirt from a selection at LOT, STOCK & BARREL
Leopard print faux fur jacket by COACH, green and black flannel vintage shirt and grey cotton ‘Harley Davidson’ vintage t-shirt both from a selection at LOT, STOCK & BARREL and blue denim jeans by RE/DONE
Pink checkered wool coat by ERMENGILDO ZEGNA, grey wool high necked knit by THE ELDER STATESMAN, blue denim jeans by RE/DONE and black and white cotton high tops by CONVERSE
Photography: Columbine Goldsmith
Fashion: Sean Knight
Words: Laura Isabella
Grooming: Lucy Halperin at Starworks Artists using REN and CHANEL