When Kevin Systrom founded Instagram in 2010, he could scarcely have imagined the impact it would have on the fashion industry – in fact, none of us could. Over the past few years, the app has proven itself as integral to forming the visual identity of fashion brands as billboard or magazine advertising – and while the smaller labels without the budgets of the big-name houses initially started honing their digital aesthetic because they simply didn't have the cash for printed campaigns, recently the major labels have started realising that they need to follow suit. While this might have initially resulted in a barrage of awkward hashtags appearing on press releases, and the often clumsy attempts at creating "Instagram-worthy" moments during fashion weeks, there are a handful of big brands who have taken notice of the success of companies like Glossier, Lonely Lingerie and Mansur Gavriel and started to create bespoke imagery dedicated to digital platforms. Once upon a time, a seasonal campaign was the only opportunity that a brand had to depict its fully-formed universe: now, there's the 9x9 grid – free to use, and powerfully impactful when cleverly curated. Here, we explore some of the big names whose digital projects are as good (if not better) than their printed counterparts: the fashion brands taking Instagram by storm.
"Chanel was a woman of her time. She wasn't a has-been, always looking backward. On the contrary, she hated the past, including her own past, and everything sprang from that. That's why the Chanel brand must stay up to date," proclaims Karl Lagerfeld in the introduction to Chanel Catwalk: The Complete Karl Lagerfeld Collections. And perhaps that's why a brand with such a historic legacy as Chanel has embraced the digital age, creating bespoke Instagram invitations to coincide with their runway shows, and a brilliant array of imagery for their cosmetics line, exclusively for the platform. Mondrian and Malevich reimagined in nail polish and lipstick? Thoroughly regrammable.
Rick Owens doesn't advertise – he doesn't create campaigns, doesn't book pages in magazines – but to scroll through @rickowensonline is to be immersed in a rigorously-considered Owenscorp universe. The feed is all monochrome furniture shots and gloriously captured backstage moments, but there are also some jolly snapshots of Rick and Michele to prevent it all from becoming too severe (sometimes there's even a picture of their cat Gaia, and nothing is more Insta-friendly than that). There's the aesthetic consistency and artful layouts that one would expect from a brand that has made its name by designing a beautiful, otherworldly dystopia but with an occasionally intimate insight into Owens' home life and holidays. It's fashion/interior/lifestyle porn at its finest.
Simon Porte Jacquemus has mastered the triptych: some of the greatest moments in the @jacquemus feed come from the clean repetition of the naif imagery that so thoroughly defines the brand. Alongside the behind-the-scenes shots of photoshoots and imagery created specifically for Instagram (hands covered in paint counting down until the show, cutouts of Daria Werbowry superimposed onto the idyllic French countryside) are plenty of selfies of the dashing designer himself, and lots of documentation of his #inspo. It's filter free, brand-appropriate and utterly charmant.
When, in 2013, Jonathan Anderson was appointed creative director of Loewe, he brought with him a heavy dose of modernity that completely updated the heritage Spanish brand and broadened its appeal to a new generation. Now, it has a visual identity simultaneously explored not only through its lookbooks and campaigns, but equally through a brilliantly curated Instagram. Showcasing the brand's craftsmanship through graphic 15-second videos, artfully documenting backstage at their shows and engaging the likes of artist Kelly Marie Beeman to illustrate their accessories exclusively for the platform results in a thoroughly modern (and covetable) aesthetic.
Last year, Gucci launched #guccigram: a "creative digital project" that invited a global array of artists from Amalia Ulman to Cao Fei to rework the Gucci prints in whatever way they saw fit. "Today creativity is often born and finds its voice in digital media" explained creative director Alessandro Michele – and the ensuing explosion of both likes and media coverage proved that not only was the "creative collision" aesthetically impactful, but savvy, too. But it's not just #guccigram that is Insta-optimised – when the brand sends out its backstage imagery, it is resized to suit a square format, and their feed's documentation of the collections are as polished as an advertisement. They've even got Petra Collins taking over their Snapchat: they're clearly taking social media seriously.