When Luka Sabbat was younger, he hated being photographed.
Apparently the 20-year-old, who was discovered on the street and has parlayed his looks and style into a successful modeling and acting career, would run to the nearest corner and cry whenever a camera appeared.
“I got to tell you something, he never wanted to model,” said Clark Sabbat, who was on hand at the Ludlow House in New York on Monday night to celebrate the launch of the Sabbat x Related collection, an underwear collaboration they produced with Related Garments that was dedicated to Haiti, which is where Clark is from. “And after he got signed, he still wasn’t really interested. And then I wrote on a piece of paper how much he was going to get paid, and he was like ‘Ohhhh, OK.’”
Luka, who has appeared in campaigns for brands including Seven For All Mankind, Tommy Hilfiger and American Eagle, did a different type of modeling for this project, which was shot in Haiti by Marc Baptiste, who is also Haitian. Family is a theme that’s come up in other underwear campaigns, but David and Mike Appel, the brothers who founded Related Garments, wanted to use this collaboration as an opportunity to document Luka’s first trip to Haiti where he was introduced to relatives he had never met before and organizations that are helping foster education in the region. Related Garments has also partnered with Baja East, The Dream Hotel and artist James Goldcrown.
“He was born here in New York and then moved to Paris when he was three, and at six started flying between Paris and New York, but I always told him he had to go and see where he comes from,” Clark said. It’s important for him to see all sides of his culture, and I felt that because of the lifestyle he was living and all of his fabulous friends. It’s a good thing for his generation to see that apart from him doing all of these cool things; he’s going to Haiti and trying to help.”
The 12-piece collection includes matching socks and underwear in a camo print or a black, blue and red colorway meant to represent the Haitian flag that is covered with the dates of the Haitian Revolution. The women’s line also comes in two different colorways and includes a bralette, brief and thong. The entire collection features a blue-and-red-striped waistband covered with Haiti. The assortment retails from $25 to $42 and 12 percent of net proceeds will go to HELP, the Haitian Education and Leadership Program, which aims to provide Haitian students with college scholarships.
Clark is no stranger to design. He went to Parsons, held design stints at various companies in Europe and the U.S. and founded a couple of brands including Friends With Benefits and Voodoo. He is working on an accessories line. David first met Clark in an elevator at the Soho House and, at the time, he didn’t know he was Luka’s father.
“When people hear the last name, they make the connection, but I usually never say my last name,” Clark said. “A lot of people tend to figure it out somehow. I don’t know if they are Googling a brother.”
Clark also spends his time helping Luka and his team with his career, which is extended into acting. Luka basically plays himself on ABC’s “Grown-ish,” a spinoff of “Black-ish” that follows Zoey Johnson, played by Yara Shahidi, through her college experience.
“It’s been interesting to watch him grow,” Clark said. “We’ve been able to pick and choose the different jobs and work with people in a way that makes sense. Because otherwise you get all of these influencers that come in and they grab all the money they can and they aren’t really saying anything.”