Olivier Rousteing

SOCIAL STUDIES: Do fashion designers really need to have a high social media following? For Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing, it’s a resounding “yes.”

“As recently as five years ago, a lot of people had their doubts about the relationship between luxury and social media,” the designer told WWD.

“Designers were expected to stay in the shadow of their brand, stuck in an ivory tower. Today, social media has completely changed things: The designer can develop his own image, which can then serve the brand’s image. He becomes an asset for the fashion house.”

This state of mind motivated Rousteing to partner with Instagram on its “Shopping From Creators” feature: Starting July 8, Rousteing’s 5.4 million Instagram followers — Balmain’s official Instagram page has 9.7 million — will be able to buy Balmain pieces directly via the social media app’s “Checkout” beta by clicking the links tagged in Rousteing’s posts.

“I wear a lot of pieces I design for Balmain, but that don’t necessarily make it to production, and every time I post a picture of myself wearing one of these pieces, I get tons of comments by people asking where they could buy what I was wearing,” explained the designer. “So I wanted to take away the frustration.”

The shoppable pieces, chosen according to Rousteing’s personal preferences, will cover all price points and range from sneakers and tracksuits to the label’s signature embroidered tuxedo jackets and even men’s couture pieces. All the drops will be limited-edition and available to purchase immediately.

Instagram launched its shoppable feature in March, testing its “Checkout” method with a select list of partners such as influencers Camila Coelho, Chiara Ferragni and Aimee Song; publications Vogue, Refinery29 and GQ, and celebrities Gigi Hadid, Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner.

Rousteing is one of the rare fashion designers to have adopted the feature on his personal account.

“I see it as a way of becoming ever more authentic and inclusive,” said the designer, linking the initiative to his latest fashion show, a music festival for which 1,500 tickets were made available to the general public for free.

“What I strive to do at Balmain is create a community around the brand,” he continued. “Other designers have done it before me — even before social media appeared, some of them managed to create a character that helped build engagement with the brand. For me, Instagram is an honest and sincere marketing tool. It can be a huge push for a brand’s business, but above all, it needs to stay authentic.”

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