Instagram Killed The Retail Store

by MR Magazine Staff

One Sunday in November 2015, Alexandre Daillance (known by his nickname, Millinsky, which he made up), woke up slightly hung over in his Wesleyan University dorm room. Then 18 years old, the Paris-born upstart fashion designer did what any teenager would do first thing in the morning: He grabbed his phone. He had dozens of notifications from Instagram, all showing he’d been tagged in a photograph of Rihanna. Still bleary-eyed, he realized she was wearing one of his hats—a simple baseball cap fronting his slogan “I Came to Break Hearts.” Within days he’d sold more than 500 of them. “So many were ordered so quickly that we had to shut down the web store,” Millinsky says. Soon celebrities such as rapper Wiz Khalifa and millennial icon Zendaya were wearing his designs. He was overwhelmed. He also wasn’t alone: Millinsky is among a growing horde of superyoung designers using Instagram as their home base. For members of Generation Z—kids who got phones at birth, to whom social media is as important as oxygen—the photo-sharing site is the core of an instinctive methodology for building a brand, garnering a following, and generating sales. Millinsky designed his first hat in 2015 and began flaunting it on Instagram. In Los Angeles, another teenager, George Khabbaz, liked what he saw and direct-messaged him. Khabbaz had frequented streetwear boutiques since childhood and had become friendly with several of their proprietors. He offered to work his connections and hook up Millinsky with manufacturing (in Seattle) and embroidery (in L.A.). Rather than cut Khabbaz in on part of the business—he was under 18 at the time, too young to sign the legally required paperwork—Millinsky brought him on as a contractor. With €1,000 ($1,085) that he’d earned organizing underground hip-hop parties in Paris, Millinsky’s label, Nasaseasons, was born. “I didn’t really know how fashion worked,” he says, “but I knew social media. And as a teenage fashion designer, that’s all I needed.” Read more at Bloomberg.