Meet the Mall-Prep Style Icon of the Summer, Adam Jockle

In Adam Jockle’s most recent video, he’s standing in Reisterstown, Maryland (which is not, incidentally, an actual town, but a “census-designated place”). He’s wearing a light-blue short-sleeve button-up, sent to him courtesy of PacSun, and a pair of white shorts.

“This outfit’s giving me old money vibes,” he says, in a heavy Maryland lilt.

“You are my Princess Diana,” a top comment reads.

Jockle, 24, first started using TikTok in early 2020, but it wasn’t until this year that his daily fit checks and Starbucks drink reviews started earning him a following. He now has over 128,000 followers, fans that take pictures with him at bars, and viral duet videos in which other TikTok users reenact his distinctive body language. In an app flooded with fleeting sartorial fads, Jockle sticks with tried-and-true, if perhaps a bit basic, preppy high school looks from mall brands like American Eagle, Hollister, and Vineyard Vines.

“I got a lot of questions about it and criticism at first,” he tells GQ. “It’s like, ‘You’re a kid who never left the 2010s and didn’t grow up.’”

There’s an outfit for every occasion—Brooks Brothers T-shirt and Ralph Lauren shorts for lunch at Cava, a Hollister T-shirt and shorts for a night out in Wildwood, New Jersey, and a full Brooks Brothers polo-and-khakis fit for a day at the driving range—and one of two signature fragrances, Dior Sauvage or Acqua di Giò by Giorgio Armani, that he pairs them with.

An upcoming senior at Elon College (he took some time off after high school), Jockle is double majoring in statistics and political science while winning over TikTok—and hopefully, a modeling agent—with his outfits. GQ sat down with him over Zoom to learn what he thinks about his TikTok fame, how he cultivated his fashion sense, and to get some inspiration for summer fits.

GQ: When did you notice your TikToks were becoming popular?

Jockle: I would say late in the semester, around May. I was trying to figure out what my niche should be. I was doing relatable stuff with school. I would do all different types of content, but I didn’t have one direction where I wanted to go. And then I watched someone’s TikTok and they were talking about their fits. I was like, I have so many clothes, why don’t I do an outfit of the day? So I did this one American Eagle outfit, and at first it didn’t take off, it was like a week, and then a couple TikTokkers that are big stitched me.

At the time I was getting a lot of negative feedback, a lot of hate. People did not like it. And so I had some bigger TikTokkers that were like, “Look, I know you expect me to crap on this kid, but I respect it. He’s doing what he wants.” And then it blew up. I went from my most-viewed TikTok being 3,000 views to 150,000, overnight. So then I said, Oh, wow. I have potential here with the fashion. So immediately, even though it was getting negative feedback, I’m like, I’m gonna embrace this and wear what I like to wear. So I put on a Vineyard Vines shirt, khaki shorts, a Vineyard Vines belt, and I talked about it and then that got like 300,000 views. I feel like I’m passionate about what I wear. I like it even though it might not be the trendy, stylish stuff to wear. So I’m gonna stick with it. And it just kind of blew up from there.

I didn’t realize you started off with negative feedback, because the reactions to your videos now are so positive!

It’s kind of interesting because I feel like that’s part of what sparked the growth, ’cause of the negative engagement. I was shocked at first. And it wasn’t just the fashion videos, it was other videos. I’m like, I’m just out here having a good time. If you don’t like my videos, just skip through. You don’t have to give me all this criticism. And I was taken aback by it, but then I was like, you know what, I’m not gonna let some people that are trolling me dictate what I do, so I’m just gonna stick with it.

When did you become interested in fashion?

I think after high school. I got a lot of questions about it and criticism at first. It’s like, “You’re a kid who never left the 2010s and didn’t grow up.” But see, I went to private school my whole life. We were wearing a blazer and a tie every single day. We wore uniforms. I feel like when you’re in high school, that’s where you get a lot of your fashion inspiration, but I never had that, like, ripped-skinny-jeans era or the American Eagle/Hollister era. So then after I got out of high school and started going into college, I was like, This stuff looks cool. I like it. And then I went to Elon, which is a preppier school. I was like, All right, I wanna fit in here, so I’m gonna stick with Vineyard Vines. I’m gonna embrace this.

What are your favorite stores to buy clothes?

I would say definitely American Eagle. People are like, “Are you a plant for American Eagle?” I’m like, “No, I’ve been shopping here for years.” I actually have this many American Eagle fits. I like Hollister a lot; Vineyard Vines. I’m always trying to find new things.

When you’re putting an outfit together, is there a specific look you’re always going for?

I’m definitely a lot more cognizant of it than before. Like, in the past it would just be, Oh, that’s a cool shirt. Now I’m trying to feel out the vibe. So if I’m going to the beach or something and I’m going to an American Eagle, I’m trying to find an outfit with lighter colors or something that’s gonna give off that beach look. If I’m going clubbing, maybe something darker. It’s about where I’m gonna wear it, the situation, and just trying to embrace the message I’m trying to send with my outfit.

You also touch on fragrance. What are your go-to colognes or fragrances when you’re putting together an outfit?

I got a lot of people laughing in my one video because I was talking about how I didn’t get any compliments when I started wearing the Dior Sauvage. That was because I started off with the Acqua di Giò by Giorgio Armani, and I noticed I would get a lot of compliments on it. Like, if I were on a date, almost every time it was like, “Wow, you smell good.” So I just stuck with it. And so lately I tried the Dior Sauvage, but fragrances are weird because I’m aware that it’s not gonna smell the same on one guy as the other guy. So that’s why I bring up the compliments ’cause I’m concerned. I’m like, Okay, this smells good when I test it. But what’s it actually gonna smell like on me?

If you were to put together your perfect outfit, what would that be?

Right now? I would say something like old money vibes. I think old money’s the trend. I’ve done a little bit of modeling, and I know a lot of what they’re going for now is the old money trend. And I think it looks really cool. So probably like a tan, lighter-blue short-sleeve shirt with, not khaki pants, but a more tanned summer outfit. Something that looks like you’re in Italy or on the water or something.

What has it been like to watch yourself blow up on TikTok?

It’s wild because, again, I was never really doing this for fame. I’m doing it ’cause I enjoy it and I’m grateful for everything that’s come from it. But seeing yourself become almost a phenomenon in a niche circle of the internet is wild. I think some of it’s funny. I mean, I think for me it is a fine line still, where you have people that genuinely really like you, and then you do have people that just make fun of you. So I think things that are in good spirit, having fun with it, I think it’s funny. And then, you know, there’s other stuff where they’re clearly just making fun of you. So it’s just finding that balance.

People have made videos about running into you in real life. What has that been like?

It’s wild, for my friends too. When I was in Wildwood it was probably 50 or 60 people on our whole trip. I know I’ve gotten a lot of views on my videos, but I didn’t think it was that widespread that it would be this common. It’s nice. Everyone’s been really nice to me and respectful. So I try to reciprocate that.

What do they most wanna know about you?

I guess it’s not as much about what they want to know about me, it’s more they’re just in shock. Like, “I’ve seen you for two months now and you’re real in person.” I just listened to a podcast with Carly Aquilino and she talked about how she saw me in Wildwood. She was at one of the bars, but she didn’t wanna come up to me. She was nervous. It was pretty funny.

Where do you hope things go from here? Do you have plans for after you graduate?

I have a lot of different directions I could see my life going. A year and a half ago I got interested in modeling because some people were talking to me about how I had the right proportions, the right size, more of a unique look. So I’ve gone to New York City doing some things related to that. I would love to get involved with that, and that’s part of why I think I got into fashion TikTok, because I thought there could be a little bit of overlap where, Okay, they might notice you with that. So continuing to push along with TikTok and modeling and see where that goes. And then I’m also interested in grad school, so maybe going to a law school or doing an MBA program. So I guess keeping a lot of doors open.

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