How Sage Elsesser Straddles Skateboarding and Music

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Calvin Klein ‘Blank Canvas’ campaign
Calvin Klein ‘Blank Canvas’ campaign

As his new Calvin Klein campaign launches, the 24-year-old joins AnOther for a quick conversation

It’s been a strange year to say the least, but Sage Elsesser remains philosophical about the events of the past twelve months. “Every moment has an effect on the person I am becoming,” he proffers. “Life will always be challenging. As beings, it is our duty to move things forward, take hardships as lessons learned, and expand to the best of our ability.”

To many, Elsesser is known first and foremost as a skateboarder, having previously signed with both Converse and Supreme. And while he now works as a model – Elsesser stars in Calvin Klein’s new campaign, Blank Canvas – and as a musician, under the stage name Navy Blue, he credits skateboarding with shaping the person that he is today.

“Since I was young, I’ve been incredibly influenced by the people around me, especially in the skate community,” he says. “They’ve watched me grow, and have helped me learn along the way. Through perseverance, they have taught me how to fall and consistently get back up. I’m grateful to have grown up skating with the people that I skate with now because friendship is at the core of our connection.”

Music is becoming more and more of a focus for the 24-year-old, though he maintains that both his work as a musician and a skateboarder ultimately serve the same purpose: to “comfort and challenge” him in different and similar ways.

“Music has always been a true love of mine since I was a child,” he says, citing Gil Scott Heron, KA, Earl Sweatshirt, My Parents, Bill Evans, Gary Bartz, Doug Carn, J Dilla, The Alchemist, Yasiin Bey, and Miles Davis as influences. “My parents are musicians and exposed us to an array of music from all over the world. I always had an emotional connection to music, and when I began to write the doors flew wide open.”

While live music events still feel like a while off, Elsesser is releasing physical vinyl records and CDs for his first two albums in the coming months, as well as another album later in the year. “Through time, I hope to convey truth and honesty in my work,” he says of what he’s wanting to express through his music. “Humans deserve to be intimate and vulnerable. Vulnerability is the source that I draw from when creating. The goal is for the listener to identify with what I am saying, and also feel empowered.”

As for the Calvin Klein campaign, which looks back to the American brand’s minimalist roots, focusing on “consciously crafted staples” like the perfect white T-shirt or denim jacket, Elsesser says that he reacted calmly when he found out he was going to be a part of it. “I feel that expectation presents grounds for disappointment,” he reasons. “The shoot was wonderful. Working with people that I know was incredibly comforting and made the job that much easier.”