I think I hit a nerve when I wrote about the Maison Cleo top that I purchased through Instagram earlier this summer. It now seems infamous among the denizens of my various social feeds, and since the initial transaction took place, I have acquired two more tops motivated by the same purpose: to quell a shopping impulse ignited exclusively through Instagram.
The other is from a brand called Ciao Lucia. This one has not arrived yet, so there is no photographic evidence of its existence on my person just yet, but I am confident that it will do what the former two tops did: 1) satisfy my hankering for something new while having me believe that I’m a true discoverer, a pioneer among the indie fashion wallets of Instagram, and 2) reinforce a wildly original thesis — one that no one else on this earth, particularly not in the field of fashion, has touched upon before — that consumer behaviors, even among consumers who consider themselves brand loyalists (me), are changing rapidly.
I have always believed myself to be profoundly brand loyal. Call it a function of the fact that I was raised among the mighty giants (Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus and Barneys) of yore. They housed labels that maintained the singular transformative quality most young, impressionable fashion fanatics lust after: clothes that could make me a better woman, that would initiate, inaugurate, understand a version of me that I myself did not yet know. These clothes were more than clothes; they were practically breathing organisms. They unlocked a set of gates before me and opened up a case study in stunning self-discovery, of soul. My soul! And the reason they mattered was because of the story they told, and the story they told belonged to the gatekeeper: the brands who made them.
But I wonder if any of that matters anymore. If I can reap the intrinsic benefits of feeling like I belong, like I’m being understood, like I’m part of something bigger just from buying a one-off top that I found on Instagram while mindlessly scrolling one Sunday afternoon, what does that say about the brand equity that once governed my shopping habits? In the spirit of moving on, not dwelling on the past or trying to fit a square peg into a mold that can no longer hold it, here are six great Instagram shops to consider.
1. Maison Cleo
Obviously. It was the gateway drug. To jog your memory: This shop is run by a mother/daughter duo based in France. They make everything by hand and that’s why they are so frequently out of stock.
2. Aurore van Milhem
For the sake of geographic consistence, here is another brand born out of France (Paris), boasting product not unlike that of Maison Cleo’s offering, but which is interestingly set up with an e-commerce component that is only set-up for desktop, not mobile. This adds an additional barrier to the acquisition process but I don’t know, it seems worth it?
Harling really found this one for me — it’s a compendium of jewelry (most of it plexiglas, which is so damn cool) handmade in New Zealand and the heartbreak hoops photographed above? I bought those while I was writing this.
4. Becca Jewellery
In other cool jewelry brands discovered through Instagram outside of the United States: Becca Jewellery, which has really picked up on the recent influx in pearls populating fashion ears and necks and wrists and the like. I’m nuts about the ones photographed above.
5. Lucia Zolea
Lucia Zolea is a vintage shop that generates a ton of its business through Instagram, which has been on the radars of Harling, Amelia and myself since at least five days ago when this Gucci perfume pendant necklace was posted (it is still available for a cool $540, FYI). This particular account speaks to a different culture of shopping avenues, namely those generated by second hand and vintage wears, emerging through Instagram and globalizing the one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
6. Ciao Lucia
Contrary to titular implications, Ciao Lucia is actually based in Los Angeles. I came across the Instagram account through another, Reese Blutstein’s Double Exposure, which really adds another layer of beautiful complexity to this entire equation. (See that blue blouse at the top of the post? It’s Ciao Lucia, too.) Where buying, selling, earning promotion once seemed like a transaction so centralized for brands, in the shopping landscape taking shape before us today, there are far too many pathways to genuinely believe that you can, or will own absolute market share the way you once could, or did.
This isn’t a bad thing. With so many more arteries baked into the heart-of-now’s fashion, there is more room than ever for different designers with different backgrounds and perspectives and purviews and ambitions to rise to the top of their subcultures. Finally.