From blogger to brand: how three young women are changing the face of fashion through social media
Fashion has always been an fast paced business, with designers challenged to come up with new lines every few months, and style changing faster than most people can keep up with. Getting your foot in the door in the industry has always been difficult, but for some, social media has given them the opportunity they need to follow their dreams. Swiss style icon Kristina Bazan, Sydney-based stylist and student Margaret Zhang, and Australian businesswoman and blogger Nicole Warne have all taken the fashion world by storm, changing the way the industry works with their savvy takes on the market. With huge followings across all social media platforms, these women have turned hobbies and interests into businesses and global brands, becoming forces to be reckoned with.
In January of 2011, Kristina and her then-partner James Chardon were looking for creative ways to spend their time. Kristina, having always had a love of fashion, looked to the new field of blogging. James, with his keen photographer’s eye, was quick to join in on the idea, and between them, Kayture was born. With items from her own simple closet, Bazan began styling herself for shoots, using familiar and affordable brands like Zara and H&M.
By the end of the year, things kept going up for Kayture. Bazan began working closely with Louis Vuitton, becoming the face of their digital campaign for the Gstaad Boutique Resorts in 2012. By 2013, she was reporting for Lancome at NYFW, attending Cannes Film Festival with Chopard, and shooting for Vogue Russia. Whilst she had started her blog dressing in Forever 21, by the end of 2013, her posts were full of items from luxury European brands, her blog becoming the face of decadence in the fashion world.
2014 kicked off with a relaunch of Kayture, and the establishment of Kristina Bazan as a brand, not just a blogger. The new website displayed a timeless elegance, filled with snapshots of Bazan’s luxurious life as she continued to jet around the world. She used this relaunch and rebranding to establish herself more firmly in social media, taking advantage of Instagram and Facebook’s major user base to get herself known across the world.
On Facebook, Kayture has amassed 1.5 million followers, still describing itself as Kristina Bazan’s fashion blog, which makes it seem far more humble than it is. Through Instagram, her presence has grown even further, as people get a behind the scenes look at her glamorous, hectic life. At the start of 2015, Bazan officially became a “verified” account, with 1.8 million followers under her very expensive designer belt.
And it doesn’t stop there. Bazan has turned her attentions to Snapchat, where her followers can be privy to literally every single thing she gets up to, from elevator rides with her close friends to her front row position at fashion week. By offering her followers an intimate view of her life, she’s opening up the fashion world to anyone who wants to interest, through perfectly filtered images and five minute long Snapchat stories.
2009 marked the start of Zhang’s presence in the digital fashion world, and she hasn’t looked back since. Looking back through her archives, Zhang’s focus was on reporting on fashion week, with her first articles commenting on the state of Balmain’s look at the 2010 fashion week. She continued in the same vein, interviewing designers and staff of fashion magazines like Glossy until enough people in the industry were beginning to learn her name. Her personal outfit posts were rare, preferring instead to focus on the work of others, but just like trends in the fashion world, her future changed rapidly.
Gaining traction on street style collective Lookbook, Zhang was able to share her own style whilst redirecting people to her blog, Shine By Three. When Zhang decided to go into law and business, it was a surprise for plenty of her followers considering how fashion-focused she was otherwise, but Zhang maintains the Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws she’s working towards at the University of Sydney develops her “real world knowledge” that she needs to stay grounded.
Soon, though, Shine By Three began to overtake her life, as Zhang started to dabble in photography and styling. As her blog grew, so did the awareness of her work, and whilst she continued to feature in front of the camera on her own fashion posts, she also began taking more photos behind the scenes. As a creative director, photographer, and stylist, she has worked with major names in the fashion world, including NYLON, Elle, and Harper’s BAZAAR. Recently, she has shot Jessica Hart for a magazine cover and feature with Gritty Pretty.
Though she continues to post her own OOTD (outfit of the day, for all of those not versed in the language of fashion bloggers) photos, Zhang’s presence has continued to grow through her work with other brands, from UNIQLO to Louis Vuitton to Huawei. As a model and personality, she continues to document her everyday life on her blog, and has taken her eye for style to Instagram.
With close to 500,000 followers on the photo-sharing site, Zhang’s feed is a gluttonous display of luxury fashion and design, from perfectly lit selfies with Miranda Kerr to flatlays of items gifted to her by brands like Mango. Every image has been so perfectly styled to show Zhang’s life through a saturated, stunning view, amassing thousands of likes as she shares the image across Facebook, where Zhang has 34,000 followers, a number that is growing everyday.
Zhang continues to insist that it is her background studies that help make her so successful. Knowing that “everything is a business now,” she knows when and where to invest her creative time for the best result, and exactly how to take her personal brand to the next level.
Starting as a self-described “passion project,” Nicole began Gary Pepper Vintage, a small fashion blog and eBay store selling vintage womenswear and accessories. Warne balanced her burgeoning business with a full-time job, studying, and two internships with Grazia and Harpers BAZAAR Australia, but as Gary Pepper grew, she was faced with a tough call. Going with her passion, Warne quit her job in favour of going full time with Gary Pepper, in a choice that would change her life forever.
It didn’t take long to take off, and soon Gary Pepper was gaining worldwide attention for its unique take on the fashion world, and Warne’s commitment to its quirky aesthetic. She continued working with Gary Pepper and grew out of her eBay store and into her own ecommerce site, becoming one of Australia’s largest online vintage retailers, all by the time she was 20.
Alongside all of her business work, Warne continued to expand her blog, committing herself almost entirely to its production and in 2012, the vintage retailer was put on hold so she could continue to develop her personal presence as a brand.
Refusing to compromise her stance on quality content and design, Warne began growing her business portfolio as a model, stylist, creative director, and social media consultant. Working with brands like Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana, Warne’s presence on the fashion scene has gone global, and despite her frequent travels abroad, she remains grounded in Australia.
With the success of her blog in 2012, she made history as the first blogger walking at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, and has continued her work with magazines like Vogue, Elle, and Glamour, with a cover of Elle Australia in 2015. Her commitment to her personal brand has continued to grow, as Warne takes to social media in all its forms to continue spreading her name and personal brand.
With 271,000 followers on Facebook, Warne engages directly with her followers, showing them just how she lives her life, which she describes as “a realm of vivid colour and endless possibilities.”
On Instagram, she boasts an astonishing 1.2 million followers who tune into see the day-to-day life of one of fashion’s biggest It girls on social media. From snaps with her partner to beach scenes to her daily coffee order, Warne’s openness with her life offers viewers the chance to see what the fashion world is really like.
Similar to Bazan, she has also turned to Snapchat to share her journey, where followers can spend a few minutes of every day living the life of a cover girl