One former stylist has taken to Instagram to launch a curated photo journal featuring NY-based industry insiders, with exciting results. WGSN’s Cassandra Napoli reports.
Instagram serves as a major portal to see everything that is happening within fashion. You only need to look at the appointment of Eva Chen as head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, to see that Instagram and the world of fashion are ever more intrinsically linked. But there’s also a sea of bloggers and models posting endlessly to their feeds, so in order to cut through that and get insight into the key names to know within the industry, one new Instagram account is standing out. Enter: Fashion Instant.
Alex Sweterlitsch is an ambitious visionarie in the making. He runs the Fashion Instant account as a one man show, producing unique content that is equal parts beautiful and inspiring. A former celebrity and influencer stylist, Sweterlitsch developed Fashion Instant as a response to his underlying need to feel creatively fulfilled in his professional life-which until launching this project in January- was lacking. Aiming to highlight the ‘unsung heroes’ of the industry, he is in the midst of building an impressive photo journal on Instagram, capturing the industry’s finest from Senior Vice Presidents to assistants, and everyone in between (key people to know and engage with, if you are just starting out in the industry right now).
Fashion Instant’s feed is a collection of polaroid imagery featuring editors, PR mavens and models Sweterlitsch counts as friends- though he hopes to someday feature people who may not work at the surface level, but whose jobs still have a major impact in driving the industry forward. Such people include those concentrated on sustainability and technology. Sweterlitsch has a very particular approach to producing imagery for the feed. “I will adjust colour to make sure everything is balanced and to make sure it looks like the original images,” he says, taking to Photoshop to make such tweaks. Valid reasons to alter his imagery include colour correcting and adjusting the lighting but he strongly detests using the tool to alter the body of his subjects. “I refuse, absolutely refuse to alter anyone’s body in any way,” says Sweterlitsch claiming none of his subjects (whether high-profile or not) have ever been disappointed in the imagery selected and featured. This is likely due to the way in which he captures them: in a natural pose shot in a familiar setting (such as their place of work).
The project is still in its infantile stage having conjured up just under three thousand followers. Despite this, being shot by Sweterlistch has become a testament to one’s success; a privilege of sorts. Sweterlitsch has slowly been gaining recognition, counting Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung and Neiman Marcus as collaborators. This is certainly no small feat for an account which has grown its following completely organically. Fashion Instant’s impressive 4.20% engagement rate calculated by Dash Hudson, can be attributed to Sweterlitsch’s commitment to staying true to what he believes Fashion Instant should portray. “I don’t really like to subscribe to the idea of altering my content based on likes,” says Sweterlitsch. Instead, he is too busy developing content he believes in and content which he is confident his following will enjoy, making it a point to comment back to fans and encourage audience participation as often as possible.
According to Sweterlitsch, there are big things ahead for Fashion Instant. “As much as I love photographing the subjects myself, I don’t see Fashion Instant (long-term) as something that’s solely just me. I imagine a much larger community of people,” he says. As for what those future expansion plans might be? You can bet Fashion Instant will morph into a stellar team of writers and photographers operating under a single content hub. Before he builds his empire however, don’t expect to necessarily see content across every other social platform until his team grows in size. “You need to be creating new content on every channel,” he says. And this, of course, would require more manpower.
At the moment, he is busy investing in Instagram Stories as he has an existing audience on that platform who can easily access this new content without much effort involved. As they say: slow and steady wins the race, and Sweterlitsch has carefully considered his trajectory forward making conscious decisions about the future of this brand.
“I’m still learning every time I do fashion week or I photograph an event. It’s sharpening my skills on how I can get the best image as quickly as possible. Dealing with people, dealing with light, dealing with all of these things that I’ve never really had to focus on as a stylist,” says Sweterlitsch.
Beyond the imminent future, Sweterlitsch speaks passionately about developing a book of his work. “I have so many outtakes and those, to me, are beautiful as well. Some might be blinking or don’t look so great, but it’s just ten images of them, in the same spot, in the same set up, same crop, but each one is a little bit different,” he says. Despite his ambitious persona, he is equally modest, too. When asked if he would ever consider putting his work on display in a gallery-type setting, he quickly notes his photography is not about him, but more so about his subjects. “Sometimes, when art goes into a gallery, it becomes sacred, and I don’t envision my work that way. I want it to be approachable, I want it to be real,” he says.
An aesthetically pleasing account occasionally laced with smart and thought-provoking commentary correlating to what’s going on in the industry is setting Fashion Instant up to become a powerful industry force in the making. “I want to build something that can stand the test of time,” says Sweterlitsch.
Like this? Follow Fashion Instant here.
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