Marketing, PR and the press – especially within the fashion industry – are funny things to be involved in. It’s a never-ending spectrum of opportunity, where one size does not fit all and the landscape is constantly changing. Rewind 10 years ago and our only source of inspiration, what’s new and what we should be buying came from the glossy magazines and the odd page in the broadsheets’ weekend supplements.
Then came the bloggers, who started to provide a more personal take on fashion, a more relatable approach to the trends and a different insight into the designers to know now. In our ever-evolving world and developments in technology, it was only a matter of time before something else came along too, to sit alongside those established publications and newer, internet-friendly individuals. Enter Instagram: the social media platform that has become as big – and in some cases bigger – as the blogs or magazines that came before it.
It’s that quick source of inspiration that works so well, the ability to discover something – or someone – new that works so well, and it’s becoming more and more a part of people’s lives, helping to shape their careers and enabling individuals to become brands in themselves. This is very much the case with Oliver Hooson (@olvh), the fashion insider who champions those independent, quality brands that we at Coggles can’t get enough of. From starting off posting images of his shoes and Instagrammable coffee and building his following, he’s been picked up by brands, allowing him to collaborate with some of the best names in the industry.
We caught up with Oliver at Chester’s Jaunty Goat – the independent coffee shop where the interiors are minimalist, the food fresh, simple and delicious and the coffee second to none – to find out how his ‘Instagram career’ came about, his new venture as a jewellery designer and the cities on his must-visit list.
“I’ve always been obsessed with shoes. Since day one of Instagram coming about, I posted shoes and coffee. I got a bit carried away and didn’t listen to what people were saying – my friends were like ‘what are you doing?’ – then I got a message from a big brand, said they’d been watching what I’d been doing and had a proposal.”
That proposal was to become an ‘insider’, posting images of him, pieces from said brand and an overall inspirational aesthetic on a dedicated Instagram account, which, at the time of writing, he’s been doing for the past six months.
“Because of this, I’ve been approached by a few companies to become an Instagram consultant. Brands are starting to treat Instagram as its own entity – they’re putting a lot behind it.”
He’s been working with the likes of Bass Weejuns and some of Britain’s most premium high street brands, connecting people, different companies and swapping ideas. It’s not just the big brands that he works with either, but other individuals: “I meet up with people with similar interests whether it’s in the UK, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm. I went to Florida a couple of months ago and met up with a blogger who’s really cool. Now we speak every week and we’re going to arrange to meet up and do shoots and people are really interested in that.”
When he’s not growing his Instagram following or collaborating with brands and individuals, Oliver’s time is taken up learning the ropes of jewellery design and conceiving his very own brand.
“I work for a jewellery store that my family owns – that’s my every day. At the moment I’m designing my own women’s jewellery range which I’m about 10 months into. It’s a work in progress but it’s going to be really good. We do really well in our store and have a loyal following so I wanted to create our own range and branch out into designing as well as the selling.
“I’m all about the branding, the lifestyle aspect to it and everything having a meaning behind it. Without meaning, it’s empty. I want to make it a great lifestyle brand.”
Having only dealt with the retail side of jewellery, the design process has been a learning curve for Oliver, but it’s also been one he’s thriving off.
“It’s been amazing. I deal with a start-up company in London who manufacture in the UK and aid young start-ups, little brands. Where I don’t know the design and manufacture process, they help with that. But I do know about the retail process. I’m learning as I go along; my little sketches that I gave to them, for example, weren’t sufficient enough so I’ve picked up the skills to make sure they are.
“With the Instagram side of things I’ve been reading a lot more and gaining more inspiration, which definitely helps.”
A lot of this inspiration comes from travel – another one of Oliver’s passions. “I take loads of inspiration from [magazine] Monocle. If I had a USP it’s that I get about, I’m never stuck in one place. Whenever I travel I go and check out the brands that I like; I love the likes of A.P.C. and Acne. I go to Stockholm, Berlin, Paris, and visit the places that these brands visit.
“Everything tends to be independent. Like this place [Jaunty Goat], there’s heart and soul in everything they do. There’s so much more to what they do. It’s like an art – just like this Our Legacy shirt and A.P.C. trousers.
“When I go away I try to go to all the coffee shops, restaurants, galleries and retailers. I like the retailers that are doing it well. Paris has Merci store, Colette. Every time I go to Paris, Colette is a huge inspiration. I like to see the amazing projects that people are doing in other countries. Berlin has VooStore; VooStore’s amazing. Stockholm has the Nitty Gritty store. It’s really cool. Most of these stores have coffee shops inside them. I just get talking to these people. The more you talk to these people the more you find out about other places.
“I go to these places and the next thing I’ll get an email from the guys at the likes of VooStore and they’ll say ‘oh you were in the store – next time you come make it aware and we’ll chat, we’ll go for dinner’ or whatever it is. This happens quite a lot.”
His favourite place though? Paris. “One of my favourite brands for many years has been A.P.C., which is where it comes from. They’ve got maybe eight or nine stores in Paris and a big sale store in Montmartre. The only thing is it doesn’t fulfil my coffee needs; it’s a city that’s famous for its brasseries but the coffee industry is slowly catching on.
“It’s the buildings, Le Marais, amazing bars, French food. I’d probably pin it down to the retail though, it’s insane.”
Since we met, Oliver’s got even more projects in the pipeline so there’s no doubt we’re going to be seeing even more of him.
Words by Angharad Jones. Images by Hollie Race