My first introduction to Rickey Thompson stopped me dead in my Instagram-scrolling tracks. It was a video of the actor and internet sensation taking a bubble bath with a glass of white wine in one hand, shower head in the other, lip-synching to Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin‘ You.” It was both hilarious and a perfect representation of us serious bathers. I would soon learn this is a Thompson specialty: making people laugh with his unique take on everyday situations.
Thomspon is a North Carolina native who moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. However, social media became his main stage. He first gained popularity on the video-editing app Vine, where he hooked viewers (2.5 million, to be exact) with comedic six-second clips of himself speaking truths directly to camera, but when the platform shut down, he started making a name for himself on Instagram. Today, Thompson has amassed over six million followers and counting. No easy feat in a world rife with content creators, but the 24-year-old is in a category all his own with an approach that feels authentic, unapologetic, and fun.
Thompson’s spot-on rants and laugh-out-loud lip-synch videos certainly rack up the likes, but his second speciality is fashion. With every look posted to his page, Thompson is showing us that men can have just as much fun with fashion as women. Take, for instance, this feature he styled and shot (equipped with a few disposable cameras) for us at his home. There isn’t a collared button-down or tailored suit in sight but instead a mélange of punchy late-’90s/early 2000s looks. When I first saw the photos I practically squealed with delight and thought THIS is a Who What Wear men’s fashion story. As we map out our own summer wardrobes, I think we could all take a page from Thompson’s playbook.
Keeping reading to see the exclusive shoot and interview.
Photo:Rickey Thompson; Styling: Vintage top; ASOS jeans; Saint Laurent Wyatt Harness Boots ($1095)
Let’s talk about the shoot you did for us: What was the fashion narrative you wanted to tell with this story?
I would say the fashion narrative was definitely the late ’90s/early 2000s. That’s literally my favorite era, and I’ve just been so consistent with it. I remember coming into 2019, and I was like, I want to get into this whole type of look, and now it’s just natural to me. I try to take inspiration from those two eras because I just love them. The fashion was everything.
Are there any specific references from that era you kept in mind for this shoot?
Oh my goodness, yes. I would say Brad Pitt is definitely one of my style inspirations from back in the day. Also Johnny Depp, Dennis Rodman, David Beckham, and the boy bands, like Nsync. I even watched 10 Things I Hate About You and a lot of rom-coms.
You strike me as someone who loves to play with fashion. What is your personal relationship with fashion, and how has your style developed or changed over the years?
I have been obsessed with fashion ever since I was little. My God mom got me into fashion when I was around, I would say, 7 years old. She would put me in velour tracksuits and stuff. I’m from North Carolina, and my mom didn’t really understand the fashion side, but my God mom was raised in New Jersey and worked in New York, so she knew about the hottest things. I was always the kid in the South wearing velour suits and everything that was in during that time, and once she started showing me different brands, like Rocawear and Phat Farm, I was like, oh my gosh, there is so much to the fashion world. During Tumblr days, I was into blogging and the different fashion pages, and then as I got older and started making my own money and was able to buy my own clothes, I was like, I can experiment with so many different things. I’m obsessed with fashion because it gives me a way to really express myself through clothes. I get excited when someone tells me they love my outfit or “Oh my God, Rickey. I love what you did there!”
Photo:Rickey Thompson; Styling: Urban Outfitters vest; vintage jeans; Fendi bag; Doc Marten shoes
When you are dressing for red carpet events, is that all you, or do you work with someone on your looks?
It’s mostly all me. I got a stylist one time for New York Fashion Week because I was flying from London and had no way to shop before, but mostly every award show, I’m dressing myself and I’m always thinking of a way to do something different. When you go to an award show, you see guys in button-downs or a suit, and I’m like, no! We can switch it up too. Girls can have so much fun on the carpet, and I really want to be able to showcase my fashionable side on the carpet as well. So I definitely try to go with something that is exciting, something that is new and fresh, and something that a lot of people haven’t seen before.
Who are some of your style icons today?
I’m so happy we are living in a world where men are actually taking fashion to the next level, people like Lil Nas X and definitely Harry Styles. Harry Styles is at the top. He is a guy I applaud so much. I started wearing skinny jeans because of Harry Styles, and now he is giving us this ’60s/’70s look, and I’m just absolutely obsessed with everything he is wearing. I’m obsessed with Ezra [Miller]. Ezra is the guy over here really taking risks with gender roles, and I love that. I would say those are my go-to guys in fashion. They are really showing you that we guys can look amazing and different on the carpet.
Do you remember your first big fashion splurge?
Oh my goodness! My very first fashion splurge I would have to say were my YSL boots. And the only reason I bought the boots was because of Harry Styles. I love a boot with a heel on, so when I saw Harry Styles wearing them, I was like, oh my goodness, I want a pair of those boots. So that was my very first fashion splurge. I bought these boots in, I would say, 2015, and I have worn them everywhere, and they are still in good shape. If you put your money toward something good, it will stay with you forever.
What is a piece you bought recently that you are wearing nonstop these days?
What a lot of people don’t know about me is I literally shop in the women’s section all the time because with the guys’ stuff, it’s just the same all the time, and I really hate that. I got this gray, oversize cropped hoodie moment from Urban Outfitters, and I wear it all the time. It’s the softest hoodie I’ve ever worn. I wear it, wash it, and throw it right back on.
Is there anything off-limits for you fashion-wise?
I would think lace. I’ve tried it, and I just don’t like how I look. I applaud any other man who can wear lace and look phenomenal in it, but for me, it just looks joke-ish. Hopefully when I get older, I will be able to rock it, but lace, it’s not my thing.
While doing a deep dive on your Instagram, I found a photo of you with Anna Wintour, which I imagine was a pretty surreal experience. Can you tell me about meeting her?
This moment was absolutely everything. We were at a Teen Vogue party showcasing young designers, and I was with Selby [Drummond]. Anna Wintour walked in, and I was like, oh my God, to be able to meet her… That is THE queen of fashion. What she says goes. I was so nervous, but Selby was like, no, let’s just say hello. So I went up to Anna, and I said hello and how are you? She is such a great person. She said hi to me and smiled and shook my hand. It was literally the best moment ever. The fact that I made Anna Wintour smile made me feel so good! Such an amazing moment, and I will never forget it.
I want to talk about your home for a moment because we see snippets of it in this shoot and also on your Instagram, and it looks like such a fun space. What was the design aesthetic you had in mind?
Oh thank you! Definitely anything from the ’90s and 2000s, that is what I wanted. I have always tried to make that my style in my home, and this is the very first home of mine that I am so proud of. When I went in here and I saw they had brown hardwood, I was like, yes, I can really go off! I decorated it inspired by Raven-Symoné’s bedroom. My room is like a ’90s teen bedroom. It’s giving you all the fun colors.
You have always been unapologetically yourself on your social platforms, but as your following continues to grow, do you feel a pressure to perform regularly on your channels?
Having six million followers makes me so happy. It drives me more. It amazes me. Six million people have hit their follow button and want to see me and my everyday life. I would definitely say it gives me the courage to keep on going, and every day I want to try something different and give people something to laugh at, something to smile at.
Well you are definitely accomplishing that. What content do you find most people gravitate toward?
People love when I rant. They love, love, love it because I’m saying things they are all thinking, but I have tried to take a step back from ranting so much because I’m actually really happy, and it’s very hard to rant on things. People also love my dancing videos. They love to see me move. They love when I put a new track on because I know the best music. I will give myself a pat on the back for that. I just know good music, and I want to turn people on to new songs.
Speaking of, what are the songs on heavy rotation for you right now?
Let me look at my Spotify. I have been obsessed with The Japanese House. A lot of people should check out that band. They are honestly so amazing. And then I've been honestly going back to my 2000s playlist, bumping 2003 to 2010. Just going back and listening to that music, wow, what a time. Beyoncé, of course, is always on heavy rotation and The 1975 and Kaytranada. Anytime you want to feel good, he’s my go-to house music producer.
You were big on Vine before the platform was shut down in 2016. What are your thoughts on TikTok?
So at first, I did not want to get on TikTok. I was like, this is for the children. But then when we went into quarantine, I was like, okay, let me just try this out, and now I’m obsessed. I’m on the app 24/7, and I think what I love about it is it’s really a cool way to connect with people. It’s a really fun and funny app, and there is so much you can do on it.
Photo:Rickey Thompson; Styling: ASOS Crochet Knitted Tank in Twist ($40) and pants
I have to bring up your new puppy, Emmy. He is so cute. How is dog-dad life?
I’m going to be honest with you, it is the hardest thing ever. I did not realize that being a dog dad would be this hard. But honestly, I love it. It’s like, Rickey, this is your child; you are raising him. He messes up here and there, but it’s okay. I literally love him so much, especially being in quarantine. He gives me so much company, and he is so cute and cuddly. I love taking him on walks. It gives me an excuse to go outside and exercise, which is really good. A lot of people ask me, Why is his name Emmy?, and the only reason is because one day I’m going to win an Emmy award, and he is my good-luck charm. I didn’t want to name him Oscar or Tony. It’s like, Emmy, hello!
What goals are you working toward at this moment?
I would say getting to the top as much as I can and making a bigger name for myself. And working on me. I really want to learn some new hobbies, and this is the time where I can really get my body together. I’m always procrastinating when it comes to working out, but since we literally can’t do anything, I’ve ordered a mat and workout equipment. I just want to come out of here safe and ready for the next thing that is going to happen.
Photography and styling by Rickey Thompson.