Neo-influencers, the new brand jokers

Neo-influencers, the new brand jokers

Founded 10 years ago in Paris, The Kooples quickly managed to find a place for itself in a rather saturated market.

Present in some thirty countries and in more than 400 stores, the label owes its success to the personality of these three boys who, like all the representatives of their generation, evolve halfway between two worlds: the very real one , represented by their family, their circle of friends, and the completely virtual other of the networks of influence (social networks, influencers, etc.) in which they subscribe.

When they launched The Kooples (a nod to the pronunciation by a French speaker of the English word "couples"), the brothers attracted attention by betting on duos with very rock'n roll looks for their campaign .

Positioned in the "luxury accessible to the middle class" niche, The Kooples is part of a tribal idea. And among the Elicha, the tribe, the family, is very important. Always immersed in textiles, Alexandre (43 years old, in charge of the men's collection) Laurent (42 years old, responsible for the women's line) and Raphael (at the head of the label's image) are the sons of the two founders of the French label Comptoir des Cotonniers (at the origin of the unforgettable mother/daughter advertising campaigns in the 2000s).

During their childhood, it was not uncommon to come across Jean-Paul Gaultier who came to discuss buttons and linings with their mother in the kitchen of the family home.

The era of paradox

In 2018, no brand can boast of doing business like ten years ago. And that, it is not to Alexandre, Laurent and Raphael that it is necessary to explain it. Past masters in the art of the splits, they quickly understood that to continue to exist it was not necessary to be close to a paradox.

Alexandre: "We've always been lucky enough to have evolved in the same universe. Fashion was our playground. We always had fun creating a unique look." Ten years after its launch, if it had long been confined to a rather masculine, rock and very black register, this brand could have run out of steam. To allow The Kooples to maintain its vitality, the Elicha brothers have chosen to rework an already well-established score.

Image and sound

A decade after their very buzzing love duets, they recently decided to ride the wave of neo-influencers. Their idea: to appeal to musicians, like the singer Zayn Malik (25 years old) ex-member of the group One Direction and incidentally boyfriend of Gigi Hadid, with whom he forms one of the most influential couples of their generation, or even top models with millions of followers on Instagram.

In itself, the concept is not really innovative. Except that here, this idea of ​​muse is based on a much more global communication concept: that of conveying an image, but above all a voice!

"I don't think that in 2018, we can still do without an outside look at our collections, especially since the world is saturated with images. People spend their lives, riveted on the screen of their laptop. Competition is everywhere", says Alexandre. He adds that he doesn't have a television or any Google apps on his iPhone. The Elicha brothers' strategy would therefore now consist of creating a buzz on Instagram through muses who, through their artistic profile or their social commitment, give the brand a voice.

A way to prevent The Kooples from falling into the disembodiment typical of brands which, in the abundance of images flooding social networks, become pale 2D shadows, to the point of no longer exciting many people. Especially not the younger generation: that of zapping, interactivity, image at all costs and life in tribes.

A well-orchestrated storytelling

For the fall, the Elicha brothers repeated the experience of the muse/creator by entrusting Stella Maxwell and Irina Shayk with the creation of a bag capsule. Admit that it still takes a bit of imagination to understand how these two tops (the first is the lover of actress Kirsten Stewart and the other, the partner of actor Bradley Cooper) who are neither artists, neither musicians nor actresses, fit into this family of neo-influencers, except that they are Instagram starlets.

But then again, the Elichas are not taught their trade. If they have a knack for mixing a flowery dress with boyish shoulder pads, a vintage perfecto and a pair of rangers (their definition of the new The Kooples silhouette), they necessarily have arguments to convince us that this choice of muses is completely consistent.

"Their daily life is written on Instagram, but these girls are nonetheless rooted in real life. The work we have done with them is sincere. Stella and Irina were involved in the creation. This is what makes the project coherent", reveals Alexandre.

Gathered in the next room for an interview session, Stella and Irina give us the same speech. For Stella, it's even obvious: "People are tired of pretty photos that are too smooth. Through the images we post, they want to discover our personality. Today, a model's portfolio must be the expression of his identity, even of his opinions."

In the case of the two tops, friends in life, these messages, if not militant, are intended to be emancipating. Irina: "We want to convey a more real image than before. In the campaign photos, we didn't necessarily want makeup and even less classic poses."

Behind this over-orchestrated discourse hides a reality that brands cannot escape: that of consumers in search of new codes. Both overexposed and eager to maintain a certain confidentiality, the younger generation finds itself in a fashion that, like it, confuses the issue and seeks new models. A strategy which, one suspects, will quickly give way to others. Hence the need for brands to anticipate change. Again and again...

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