Over the last decade, digital media has been driving the fashion industry. From the first wave of bloggers to the rise of influencer culture, it has created a multi-billion dollar network connecting brands, stylists, photographers, and designers. Instagram has been a true game-changer for the fashion world: no longer locked behind closed doors, today every fashion show and its backstage madness is broadcast through Instagram Stories to an audience of millions worldwide.
Yet Instagram also allows for something more personal and interesting — a sneak peek into the lives of the fashion insiders who are shaping the industry today. It’s not just about keeping up appearances or showing off expensive bags. These days, influencers are sharing their creative processes and raising awareness of social issues. Hailing from the New East, here are just some of the fashion insiders who have made prolific careers in the industry, with a great deal of attitude, style, and humour.
Acielle, the founder of Style du Monde, is among the most in-demand photographers at fashion shows across the globe. Originally from Almaty in Kazakhstan, Acielle is based in Belgium but travels around the world more than 15 times a year to photograph stylish showgoers during the main Fashion Weeks in Paris, Milan, London, and New York. Acielle’s path to photography wasn’t clear cut: she originally moved to London to work in finance but was swayed into fashion by her love of photography. Driven by her avid interest in unusual garments and the one-of-a-kind characters you find in the buzz of fashion shows, she has published her street style images in world-renowned titles including Vogue and The New York Times. Her Instagram is the best source of style inspiration not only from the renowned fashion capitals, but also the New East fashion destinations like Tbilisi and Kiev.
Avdotja Alexandrova founded alternative modelling agency Lumpen in Moscow in 2014. She’s been responsible for the careers of many street-cast Russian youngsters who wouldn’t have otherwise landed in fashion. Her models have have walked for Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens, and Vetements — all due to Alexandrova’s sincere interest in unusual, unique faces and personalities. Her Instagram channels that same eye for the peculiar side of life: from enchanted cityscapes in Moscow to the new faces on the Lumpen roster.
Abzal Issabekov first appeared on the fashion industry’s radar after his Central Saint Martins graduation show, which mixed exquisite tailoring with fetish inspired by Berlin gay club-goers. Issabekov’s interest in fashion came from childhood: born in a small town in Northern Kazakhstan, he learnt the basics of his craft from his mother who was a trained seamstress during the Soviet years. Coming from a seemingly remote place didn’t slow his stellar career rise: following design degrees from Parsons School of Design in New York and Central Saint Martins in London, Issabekov spent a few years in Phoebe Philo’s team at Celine, and now designs Louis Vuitton menswear for Virgil Abloh. Issabekov’s Instagram offers his candid and humorous perspective into the work of the renowned fashion house.
Chaos Concept Store in Tbilisi is one of the key destinations for anyone who wants to experience the new wave of Georgian fashion. Located in a former factory that houses the capital’s best known hotel, Rooms, the store stocks international cutting-edge designers like JW Anderson, Sunnei, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh, while also championing local fashion talent. One of the masterminds behind the store is Salome Bez, who has an outstanding sense of style of her own. Her Instagram shows a day in a life of a stylist and buyer: from trips to Paris showrooms to hanging out with Tbilisi’s cool kids to sporting anime-style neon wigs.
Russian pro-skater Tolia Titaev is celebrated in the global skate community for his skate tricks — but is also well-known in the fashion world for his input into contemporary streetwear. Titaev runs Rassvet Moscow, a skater brand co-founded with designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, with whom he recently launched the Oktyabr skate shop in Moscow. Titaev and Rubchinskiy have been friends for a number of years, which gradually developed into a full-scale design collaboration. Titaev’s work for Rassvet Moscow is a good reminder of why fashion has been obsessed with skateboarding for decades: its youthful energy, cosmopolitan free spirit, and effortlessly cool style. All of the above are also true about Titaev’s Insta.
With his shaved head, piercing blue eyes, badass attitude, and affinity for sportswear, Vsevolod “Sever” Cherepanov first emerged on the global fashion scene as the poster-boy of post-Soviet cool. First scouted by Moscow-based agency Lumpen in 2015, Cherepanov has walked for such major labels as Comme des Garçons, Hood By Air, Lanvin, and Junya Watanabe, and been the face of Nike. Cherepanov also launched his own label Sever (titled after his nickname), which specialises in technical monochrome sportswear. Sever’s Instagram showcases his designs and whatever he’s up to during fashion weeks: running, partying, or hanging out with such high-profile industry insiders as Virgil Abloh.
Originally from Russia, Yulya Shadrinsky knows all the ins and outs of the Paris fashion scene, particularly when it comes to its emerging young underground. Over the years, she’s documented the wildest parties which go down during Paris Fashion Week: all sweaty fun, pumping music, and young Parisian kids mingling with celebrities like Mykki Blanco, G Dragon, and Bella Hadid. Shadrinsky’s ability to capture the energy of the moment and great eye for style have landed her jobs with established labels and magazines. But her talent goes deeper: it’s about a love for uncompromising free spirit and young rebellious energy. Shadrinsky’s Instagram is a testament to that: it showcases her fashion work but also her circle of friends, Parisian rooftop sunsets, and the complex journey of finding your place in this old bourgeois city.