Fifty-seven-year-old primary school Teacher, Irvin Randle has always had a passion for fashion, but he never dreamed that it would one day make him famous.
Today the grandad-of-two from Houston, Texas, is an International Style Influencer, Model and Educator with over 293,000 Instagram followers and he’s only just getting started…
Irvin became an overnight celebrity in 2016, aged 54, when photos of him looking dapper in a range of stylish outfits went viral on social media; inspiring the hashtag #MrStealYourGrandma.
He admits that, at first, he wasn’t the biggest fan of social media but it grew on him after his friends convinced him to get a Facebook account.
He says, “I didn’t like social media at first, but I grew into it. I started posting photos on Sundays of me wearing different outfits. Then one day, this guy sent me a message and said that he liked my photos and asked whether he could repost some of them on Instagram.
“I told him he could, as long as he didn’t choose the ones of me in swimwear! I only had 200 followers at the time and was very new to social media.”
“Waking up that morning, I had no idea that my life would be turned around”
Little did Irvin know, that his sharp fashion sense and willingness to share his photos on an ordinary Tuesday evening, would change his life forever…
“I went to bed and thought nothing more about those photos because I was working at summer school and had to be there for 7.30am. Waking up that morning, I had no idea that my life was about to be turned around.
“My phone started ringing at 7.35am and it was the guy who had reposted my photos. He explained that he’d never seen anything like this before and that my photos received 37,000 likes on Instagram just an hour after they were posted.
“My daughter, Jessica, then called me from Los Angeles and it was only 5.40am in the morning there, so I thought something was wrong or she needed money! She said “Dad you’re on Twitter and you’re trending!”
“I told her I wasn’t on Twitter and that I had no idea what trending was, but that she needed to stop it. She started laughing and said, “Dad, you can’t stop it!””
“My students said, “Mr Randle, you’re on the internet! Your pictures are everywhere!”
“At the time, I was in a computer room with my students and I wasn’t paying any attention to what they were doing. When I got off the phone, they said, “Mr Randle, you’re on the internet! Your pictures are everywhere!”
“My boss then came in and asked me if I knew what was happening with me. I was sweating by then and I told him that I didn’t feel good and he told me to go home.”
Trending around the world…
Some of Irvin’s friends also called when they saw that he’d become a social media sensation – with one friend who lives in Nigeria, confirming that he’d received 7 million likes on a social media platform over there.
All over the internet, people were asking “Who’s grandad is this?” as the hashtag #MrStealYourGrandma began to trend around the world.
Irvin remembers how he felt when he saw it and confirms that he definitely hasn’t stolen anyone’s grandma! He says, “When I saw the hashtag, I was furious! I don’t want anybody’s grandma! Although I have stolen a couple of grandma’s hearts without intending to…”
“Since my discovery, I have used Facebook and Instagram as my platform to show younger and older men you can still dress respectfully at this age, whilst having fun with it!”
Initially, Irvin was overwhelmed by the reaction to his photos but soon began thinking about what the future might hold. He realised that he had an opportunity to use his position to inspire people over 50 to continue to embrace fashion and strive to be the best they can be into later life.
He now posts photos of his suave style on social media several times a week, and has a website where he offers tips on subjects including fashion, grooming and fitness.
Laughing, he explains, “I never tried to break onto the internet…it found me! I’ve dressed like this since the sixth grade. I can tell you that ever since I set my eyes on GQ magazine, I knew right then how I wanted to dress!”
“When my photos were breaking the internet and TV news, I saw that this could be something big for me and my family. But I also realized that this could also be a wake-up call for people over 50 to keep hope alive. I’ve received so many messages telling me that I’m a role model!
“Just because you’re over 50, it doesn’t mean that you have to wait for Jesus to come and get you while you’re eating a bag of chips on the sofa! Since my discovery, I have used Facebook and Instagram as my platform to show younger and older men you can still dress respectfully at this age, whilst having fun with it!”
“Younger generations send me messages asking where they should shop and how items of clothing look on them”
Irvin says that the majority of his followers who look to him for style tips are actually aged between 24 and 35:
“I’m assuming that the younger generations want to see the ageing process and what happens if you take care of yourself. They send me messages asking where they should shop and how items of clothing look on them.
“I just love it when messages and emails start with “How do you like this outfit on me?” whilst they are actually in the store. I guess my opinion means a lot to them.”
Laughing, Irvin confesses that he also receives unusual messages and requests from people who admire him for other reasons!
He says, “One of the craziest messages that I received was from a lady who said, “Meet me at the chapel on Saturday at 1pm – I have arranged everything.” I asked, “For what?” and she responded with “We’re getting married.”
“I wrote back and told her that I’m already married and her response was “I can take care of that too.” You wouldn’t believe how many emails like that I’ve received – some people are brave!”
Along with receiving praise for his style, Irvin says he has also been inundated with modelling offers but he’s taking things at his own pace whilst still working as a Teacher full-time.
“At first, I wasn’t sure who to trust with my new career. Modeling jobs were coming in and still are but I haven’t signed with an agency yet! I want to see where this is going for me and my family and I won’t be ready to quit my teaching job for another couple of years.
“I do most of my modelling on the weekends, but when I retire from teaching, I will be doing modelling and acting full-time – I would love to be on the big screen. This is just the beginning. Of course, I know that it comes with hard work, but I’m ready for that.”
“I work at the school from 7.45am to 4.15pm, and then I come home and run three miles around the park and lift weights”
Despite the events of the last few years, Irvin remains humble about his appearance and admits that he doesn’t see himself in quite the same way as others do:
“I’ve been told that I have a unique look but I don’t see it! My mum told me that I’m beginning to look like my grandfather. He was a very handsome gentleman who was in the army and he used to wear his uniform fitted – my grandmother would hand stitch his uniform. I can see a little of him in me as I get older!”
Irvin may not understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to his appearance, but he still works hard to take care of himself both mentally and physically.
He says, “At the moment, during a typical working week, I start my day at 5.30am by doing 30 push-ups. I work at the school from 7.45am to 4.15pm, and then I come home and run three miles around the park and lift weights.
There are some days when those weights are heavy and others when they are light as a feather. I also get plenty of rest, drink several bottles of water a day and eat a healthy diet. I also don’t worry about things I can’t change!”
“I’m so happy with life - it’s truly a blessing!”
Reflecting on his life over the last three years, Irvin says that he’s really grateful for the way things turned out and for the support that his family have shown him since taking on extra work as a Model and International Style Influencer.
He explains, “I’m so happy with life – it’s truly a blessing! My family and close friends have shown so much support and they respect my time with them – and if I don’t have time they completely understand.
“I’ve been able to travel places that I’ve always dreamt of. I’ve met celebrities who I watch on TV and they’ve asked me whether they can take a photo with me! I wouldn’t change anything about my life now. I’m not saying that it’s perfect…there are pros and cons, but I’m always prepared and I try to handle everything in a mature way!”
“To anyone else over 50 thinking about trying a new career or venture, I say do it. I would always rather say, “I tried it” than “I wish I had tried it.” Take the chance, because you only live once.”
Were you inspired by Irvin’s story? Do you have a story of your own that you’d like to share? Email us at [email protected].