designer and friend



01—01 preliminary ideas

Fads and trends come and go and our attraction to them is magnetic. One enduring trend for me is Instagram. No other social media platform has resonated with me so intensely (brief two week stint on Ello, ever decreasing interest in Twitter, general loathing for Facebook, mild disgust over Tumblr etc) and as such, I wish to delve deeper and dissect my attraction.

Currently my obsession is the intersection of youth culture, fashion and streetwear – this is my starting point. I'm drawn to the shameless appropriation of old trends, new trends and how unabashed young influencers are (or at least they portray themselves to be). For quite some time now, insouciance has been the word that's been at the back of my mind whenever I've looked at anything fashion related. I suppose the term je ne sais quoi applies too, but its overuse makes me a little sick. 🤢 

Of course I see the irony in searching for something as elusive as insouciance on a platform that's so heavily curated. So much goes into crafting, not only the perfect Instagram image, but also an entire feed. There are apps and programs to help people plan their posts in order for their feed to maintain an aesthetic when someone scrolls through a profile. I've watched videos from vloggers advising their viewers how they maintain a cohesive Instagram aesthetic. I didn't purposely seek those videos out, they came up in my Subscriptions feed. Even in this situation I say that I didn't purposely seek out a video, but I bought into a YouTuber's brand, so in part I did seek out the content.

The concept of a brand is so integral to the Instagram experience. Every individual on the platform, unwittingly or not, is their own brand manager. I subscribe to people because I like the idea of their brand – what they offer, what they stand for, what they can provide me etc. So from this, Instagram has its own economy, where what's being traded is interactions – likes, follows, comments, DMs, views. Furthermore, to perpetuate your own brand, in simpler terms is selling yourself – is maintaining a social media following prostitution then? What is the reward?

What even is a brand in this age? How would you grow a personal brand from a business perspective? Does reading financial publications give you enough of a background? There have been success stories (eg. Chiara Ferragni) who have built an entire business from their blogs/social media presence, but my main interest are those users who have large followings without profiting financially (or at least I'm unaware of...). 

All brands have structures set up for growth (having read Business of Fashion of a good number of years I've learnt a few things). The thing with Instagram is that it moves so fast and is more or less ephemeral. There are few instances where I'd go on someone's profile and go through and look through every post as if it was my first (I lie, there are about two accounts).  The most successful 'grams take advantage of this; constant updates keeping the brand in the public conscience. Being relatable can be an asset, but Instagram's lenient in that you can fly your freak flag high and you'll be championed. Cliques, gangs, cultures, those who know, know are such words and phrases which are applicable to the culture of Instagram. 

The people we follow and how they run their 'grams is only half the story – We don't even dictate the other half. The other half are the designers and engineers at IGHQ with their UX and UI tricks. There's so much psychology and trickery that's in play every time you open the app. I haven't yet dissected it, but it's something I'll look into. 👀 

The title isn't just random numbers. 01 project – 01 post