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What’s so great about Instagram? An interview with Kristen Joy Watts, Community Team, Art and Fashion Lead at Instagram

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Fashion Weeks used to be a closed network, with buyers and happy journalists. It Girls were fighting for the FROW. But with Social Media and more specifically Instagram, there’s a brand new playground in which new public and new communities gather. It’s not the Front Row that matters anymore, but the backstage, the making-of, the secret stories propagated and shaped by makers. An ongoing and perpetual reinvention of fashion, which goes beyond conventions and traditional rules. Instagram is our favourite social network (you can follow Vu Quan & lilzeon and his new project). It’s a goldmine to wander around others’ dreams and through people ideas.

Instagram, it’s the reality and the perception of this reality.

We had a chance to chitchat with Kristen Joy Watts, Community Team, Art and Fashion Lead at Instagram to share few ideas, crushes, vision about the network.

Let’s go, in, sta, gram.

Instagram has become one of the ‘places to be’ for fashion brands as well as for fashion enthusiasts. Is there a risk of creating a ‘snacking culture’ for brands that are more luxury oriented?

There is a lot of fashion storytelling on Instagram that is light and fun and fast. We also see really sophisticated, unforgettable storytelling from the fashion community, whether Landon Nordeman’s (@landonnordeman) Instagram-first fashion week coverage for The Cut:

#theCutPFW @rickowensonline Rehearsal #pfw for @thecut #eiffeltower #jaimeparis

A photo posted by Landon Nordeman (@landonnordeman) on

…or Richie Talboy (@okrichie) and Lucas Lefler’s (@lucas_lefler) #emptyrunway series for Vanity Fair. In France too there is a growing community of inspiring creatives on Instagram, from Carin Olsson (@parisinfourmonths) to Tiffany Cooper (@tiffanycooper_) to Simon Portes Jacquemus (@jacquemus). Fashion houses, publications and individuals all over the world look to them for inspiration.

"GRIS" #JACQUEMUS FIRST PRE/COLLECTION / @harleyweir @jamesvaleri @aninevanvelzen

A photo posted by SIMON PORTE JACQUEMUS (@jacquemus) on


We are noticing some emerging trends in the network à la Tumblr (such as pro-ANA movements that are creating support groups) and that you have started to recruit people in order to identify and share the community with the world. How do you identify creative community members ? Do you have dedicated tools and contacts with them?

The Community Team at Instagram was created to discover and elevate the most amazing people and storytelling on Instagram. Our small but mighty team has members in Tokyo, London, Moscow, São Paulo, San Francisco and, of course, New York, where I am based. We celebrate the community on Instagram from North Korea to Nebraska. My discovery process involves everything from research on Instagram to asking everyone I meet if there’s anyone they’ve discovered who I need to know about. I always find amazing people when I’m in Paris.

Success is hard to achieve and gaining numerous followers is a lot of work on Instagram. However, some companies such as Instabrand are created with a view to manage Instagram’s talents. What advice would you give to a talent that is starting on Instagram and wants to join the tribe of very followed accounts?

For us, Instagram is all about the fun of sharing your story and discovering amazing people to follow. Here are a few best practices for someone who’s just starting out. First, tell a consistent story. Second, follow some people you know, some people you don’t know and some people you just discovered (for example, I follow many people in fashion and art but I also follow a florist in Moscow and a lifestyle photographer who captures wonderful images of his two Newfoundland dogs. Finally, connect with other people. This can be through likes and comments or even through meeting in person for coffee or an InstaMeet. The InstaMeet phenomenon, whereby Instagrammers meet in a location to take pictures of scenes which inspire them, allows the community to come together and share their passions and creative processes in new, real relationships with others.

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Adidas x Instagram: personalize your trainers with Instagram pictures

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Shoe brands are the main vectors of our personal journeys after all. And while we keep sharing our daily perks and hourly pace on Instagram, Adidas is set to launch a new app, which will allow customers to put their favourite Instagram pictures onto their trainers. The Adidas Photo Print app will help us in personalizing ZX Flux Trainers.

A step forward into mainstream bespoke.

 

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The Golden Era of fashion is not over

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In a vibrant essay, Robin Givhan explains that the good old times of fashion blogging are over.

Basically, Robin Givhan gives us a brilliant explanation of the history of digital fashion; how bloggers changed the rules and how editors had to adapt.

The core of the demonstration is to say that as media fought back and that it’s more complicated for newcomers to take the lead, the ecosystem is not as it used to be. Even worse: fashion bloggers will no longer be a sort of bunch of guerilleros against the system: they’ve become the system.

Part of that op-ed is right: you hardly find an influential fashion blogger without an agent. You need to negotiate fees with talent agencies for a lot of collaborations with brands; it’s true that if you start from scratch, you really need to invest a lot of time to emerge.

But still, I do believe that the golden era is still up and coming.

First, most of the top style bloggers were absolutely anonymous 2 years ago; because now Brazilian or Aussie bloggers are sky-rocketing, there are new faces who change the deal. In this ever-changing fashion world, there’s no place for conservatism: there might be a dozen of blogging institution, but the vast majority of interesting bloggers are fresh, impassioned, irreverent people. And it’s worth mentioning it.

Then, if you look at niche communities, new phenomenons are rising. I think about the Mipsterz which are only now discussed in traditional media. They were absolutely non-existing last year, and obvious today.

Subcultures invent new codes on a daily basis; fashion is a gigantic transformer of our cultural expectations; for that, the Golden Era is just starting.

 

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Nike Air Max Day by ASOS on Google Hangout #ASOSAir with Jessie J

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To celebrate 27 years of the iconic Nike Air Max shoe ASOS is currently hosting a Google+ Hangout.

Natasha Wray (Freelance stylist) and ASOS Fashion Editor Zeba Lowe describe the different ways to wear Nike Air Max.

It’s a very fascinating format: a sort of TV show dedicated to ONE iconic product. Jessie J has just popped in and it’s just amazing to imagine an online retailer inviting a top celebrity to engage conversations with a worldwide audience.

jessie J nike air max asos air

ASOS is again on the edge…not sure yet if millions of viewers are there, but still: this is the future of fashion.

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Unleash the power of StyleChi

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When StyleChi contacted us, we were pretty intrigued by the name…is it a yoga trend? Is it an Asian brand?

Well, not really but still: StyleChi brings some money spirituality to our fashion wallet. The idea is quiet simple: the more you discover, browse and add to shopping bag your favorite pieces, the more you earn points then the more you can save money. You increase your Chi so to say!

That’s a very interesting move: the shopping experience is becoming more and more subtle; brands will reward our social relationships and the attention we “give” to specific channels.

Let’s see if the Chi will be enough to compete against other online retailers blockbusters!

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When did Miley become more real than a Fashion Blogger?

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For the sake of our ecosystem we had to cry this out. Our darlings and colleagues from the fashion blogosphere have gone too far. We’re not talking about these buffoons roaming the sidewalks during Fashion Week, but really about those delicate creatures that made boys and girls just like us dream of an eternally and integrally beautiful street, populated with muses and characters.

But then Kristina Bazan just released her new version of KAYTURE. As the pinnacle of her later trajectory, it showcases the most surreal shots of a young talented blogger ever. We’re feeling the brands and all these “amazing projects” they’ve submitted to her have alienated the idea of what we used to love about K: a sophisticated spontaneity. She embodied how cool yet charming and level-headed one person could be when it came to fashion perception.

Kayture Collaboration with Louis Vuitton

Now she looks more plastic than any over-the-top luxury campaign. Fake glows and shopped auras have covered the homepage. Thank you Louis V.

And then we watched Miley Cyrus’ music videos again. And somehow it felt more real. Proof that posterizing an icon is a delicate art that even the greatest brands on Earth still have to master.

 

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Stitch and Story: the rock’n roll duet of knitting

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OK guys: if you had told me about knitting few years ago, I would have Laughed Out Loud. Come on grannies.
But the thing is that I was wrong.
Knitting and DIY in general is a sort of precious escape, a daily achievement with meanings. And with Social Media, this whole trend became a digital daily telling.
I had a chance to ask few questions to the 2 Jen behind Stitch and Story. And it’s dramatically inspiring.
When did you start Stitch and Story?
Stitch & Story began in Feb 2012, founded by two friends – both called Jen! It started off naturally with us wanting to share our passion in knitting so we began blogging about all things woolly. In April this year, we’d taken this hobby and created a business with the mission of showcasing knitting in a more contemporary, fun, and easy-to-learn way.

Who’s Stitch and who’s Story in your duet? 

Our name doesn’t represent anyone but rather, an idea. Knitting is a way of embedding our creations with emotions and memories i.e. on all the careful time spent crafting; the cakes and coffee accompanied with curious minds; and the victory of finishing your hand-knitted item, quirks and all! We want every knitted project to be meaningful, whether it’s for gifting or for yourself – there’s just a great sense of achievement in having knitted an item yourself and that adds to the richness of stories behind handmade products and thus, every ‘stitch‘ knitted builds a ‘story‘…!

Knitting…how come it’s now fashionable?

Like other recent boom in household crafts such as baking and sewing, the return to needles and yarn has been seen as a wider backlash against the superficiality of modern life. While manufactured goods can be functional, durable, beautiful, even inspiring, the very fact that they are mass-produced makes them disposable. In its uniqueness, a handmade item such as a knitted item carries the imprint of its creator. The very fact that you’ve made it means no one else will be wearing the same thing as you!

What are the best tricks to start knitting?

If you’re a total beginner, watch our online video tutorials! We have a short 10-seconds clip for every stitch so you’ll have the confidence to start knitting. Our DIY, all-in-one knitting kits are also a great project for wannabe knitters because they have everything you need including simple instructions and patterns.

What are your plans for the coming weeks?

We’ve had a very busy winter having just launched our online store along with doing several popup stores in London, including at Piccadilly Circus and Westminster. At the same time, we’re also planning for our first trade show at Top Drawer in January (12th-14th) and creating our S/S14 knit kits collection. We also need to finish off our Xmas knitting for our friends and family…everyone’s getting jumpers this year!

Any final word?

Knitting isn’t just for grannies – come and join our online knitting circle and be part of our story! :o)
Ta!
Jen & Jen
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Africa finally gets a fashion champion: Soko!

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There are Milan, Paris or London. But the fashion industry should probably take a look at Nairobi thanks to Soko. Soko is “the online destination for shoppers to discover stunning handcrafted accessories from all over the world and purchase them directly from their designers. Using Soko on a simple mobile phone, designers and artisans in the developing world can upload and sell their jewelry pieces online, with no need for a computer or a bank account“. A genius idea led by a gang of smart women. We had a chance to interview their VP, Diana Biggs. A little bit of fashion, of sustainability and technology: what a mix!

soko

Soko and SasaAfrica are interconnected projects: can you briefly explain us what it’s about?

The company was originally launched as a mobile platform for artisans under the name SasaAfrica in October 2012. The company rebranded to Soko in April 2013 and the new platform, with curated collections by artisans discovered through the marketplace, was launched in October 2013. So, Soko is the next generation of SasaAfrica.

There seems to be a major interest for social entrepreneurship: what are then the various KPIs for the teams involved?

Definitely – Soko is a social enterprise which was really founded around the goal to help improve the lives of artisans in developing markets by enabling their access to the global online marketplace and to provide them with this opportunity to grow as entrepreneurs. To measure this, we have a Director of Social Impact, Diana Sang, working in our office in Nairobi, and tracking the impact of Soko on the lives of artisans, as well as on outside factors such as the environmental impact of our business. It’s something we take very serious and an aspect that both excites and drives us!

diana soko

Fashion can change the world…do you agree?

I definitely agree. Fashion plays a major role in our culture, both in the contemporary society as well as cultural heritage. Fashion is your face to the world, your image, how the outside world perceives you – it can speak to your values, it is an identifier of cultural groups, norms, trends, tribes. It is art, it is expression, and it is becoming increasingly global with the rise of the blogger, with this generation’s obsession with photography and self-expression.

Not only that but here’s a staggering fact: The retail manufacturing industry – yes, fashion, – is the second most polluting industry on Earth, second only to oil. Not only are we promoting the work of artisans, we do not accept any jewelry made with plastic and the majority of our pieces are made using upcycled or recycled material. So, above and beyond the cultural and artistic aspect, that of forming a movement, fashion can also change the world by becoming a cleaner industry – and this is something we strongly promote at Soko.

There seems to be a lack of media interest for African fashion: do you agree and how can Soko help in promoting the local designers?

We’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about “Africa rising.” Now is the time. The Western world has had a much longer relationship with Asia – we’re used to our clothes coming from China, to the textiles of India, to patterns and fabrics popularized for example when the Beatles took a trip to India back in the 1960s.Sub Saharan Africa clearly deserves to be on the global stage for more than poverty, war, or corruption. Fashion is an important part of this and at Soko, we work to promote the local designers by discovering them and bringing them to the attention of the global consumer. We celebrate the artisans existing designs and techniques and are excited to share this with the world. Now is the time for Africa.

You’ve recently declared that women are Africa’s greatest untapped resource: what are the barriers then? Men? Culture?

And we are certainly not the first to say that. There is plenty of research that shows that countries where men and woman are more equal are more competitive and prosperous. There is certainly a gap remaining in Africa for women in terms of access to education, economic participation, political participation and health. African women face many barriers, as women in many other parts of the world do, in terms of land rights, access to capital, discriminatory policies, traditions, and other practices.

Supporting women as entrepreneurs is fundamental for economic development – women tend to invest around 90% of their earnings back into their families, which means overall rising in education, health, and development.

What are the next steps for Soko and SasaAfrica

Next step for Soko… We’re very excited for Christmas and to be bringing out offering to a global audience, now shipping across Europe, UK, Australia and North America. And we’re working on our next collection, which is highlight the designs and craftsmanship of a new set of artisans, so stayed tuned!

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em Michelle Phan: stories and emotions from Social Media to beauty palettes

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It’s a real machine launched by YouTube beauty queen Michelle Phan with L’Oreal: called em Michelle Phan, the brand aims to create a community of beauty junkies for a totally new way of shopping for makeup. As explained on the dedicated website, “See what people like you are buying, check out the latest beauty trends and get advice straight from michelle. ready to get started? customize your profile now“.

The line features over 250+ products related to special life moments: “Love Life,” “Day Life,” “Party Life” and “Night Life” are part of a “Life Palette“.

A name based on selfie phenomenon: me in the eyes of others

After 2 years of development, Michelle Phan (and L’Oreal) expect to benefit from her strong fan base to spread the word about her new brand

Beauty lovers are increasingly consuming and sharing information digitally,  through online communities. We saw the power of these communities and wanted to meet them where they live – online. Michelle Phan’s expertise in makeup, plus her passion for teaching and empowering women has made her a digital phenomenon. She represents exactly what this line is all about – community, empowerment, artistry” Carol Hamilton, president of L’Oréal Luxe in a press release.

“em” is the reflection of the word “me”. A way to celebrate the growing social media community of consumers. And “em” also means “you” in Vietnames

em will have it’s own store in October, first in NYC and then worldwide.

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The Feet Project (RE-UP): the teaser

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It’s a project we’re pretty happy to present today as we’re producing it: the Feet Project.

The question can seem absurd: do you ever think about your feet?

A lot of people have never considered it. And it’s amazing to a certain extent as we all walk, wear shoes, swim; and at the opposite, if you don’t have feet, your life is totally changed.

We’ve been interviewing passer-by, shoe designers, fashionistas, experts, reflexologists. And we’ll release the full documentary in September.

The Feet Project teaser from RE-UP on Vimeo.

As it’s a creative research project exploring what feet mean to people, we need you. If you have something to say, if you want to share your feet, well…do it on our Tumblr. A lot of bloggers or anonymous already played the game. Join us.( feet-project.com ) by RE-UP ( thisisreup.com )

 

Credits:

A film directed by Flavie Trichet Lespagnol ( flavie-trichet-lespagnol.com/ ) and Marion May ( marion-may.com/ )

Music: DAYS by Exsonvaldes ( exsonvaldes.net/ )

Creative Director:
Chris Aldhous

Creative strategy:
Laurent Francois

Project direction:
Tristan Nicolas
Pierre Humeau

Content strategy:
Elisabetta Giusta
Karishma Puri

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