Social media is no stranger to grassroots brands launching and growing into e-commerce giants, sometimes seemingly overnight. It’s bridged the gap between brand and customer, providing direct-to-consumer options, more transparency (at least on the surface), and branding that feels more relatable and authentic. Image is key, as is curating an exclusive lifestyle that invites their customers to join them on their journey. It’s a tall ask, but when done correctly, it’s a recipe for success.
Here, five digital-born brands that have nailed it.
This Korean streetwear-inspired brand launched on Depop in December 2015—by 2016, it was already a fully registered company. Co-founders Jade Douse and Symone Mills claim their success is due to their Instagram, which took off after several influencers and models, including Elsa Hosk and Bella Hadid, began posting photos of their purchases. Today, Oh Hey Girl has over 200K followers and has grown its inventory from a mere 35 pieces to a full e-commerce collection.
Started by Alana Johnson, Orseund Iris has quickly become one of New York City’s fashion frontrunners thanks to its smart clothing (think her famous knit tube tank), and even smarter marketing. Johnson, whose twin sister is a director, focuses as much on designing as she does shooting them. The result? Her website is an impeccably put-together mix of short mood-films and photo shoots with girls like Kate NYC and Alexis Jae that bring the brand to life.
An up-and-coming designer who was recently enlisted to collaborate with Adidas and Kendall Jenner, Olivia Oblanc is no stranger to the world of fashion. In 2017, she launched her namesake brand Oblanc just months after graduating from Parsons School of Design. With her niche focus on industrial aesthetics and urban-realism, Oblanc’s clothes are reflective of the not-so-clean-cut side of New York—the nitty-gritty youth culture that blurs gender identity and encourages self expression.
First started as a denim brand for women of all shapes and sizes, Miaou has grown to be so much more. Alexia Elkaim, the label’s founder and creator, revolutionized the stylish stretch jean that accommodates both size and movement. (Her concept developed from her own dilemma in finding a pair of jeans that fit her curvier body type.) Since its creation, the jeans have been picked up by a host of celebrity clients, used in a Travis Scott music video in collaboration with Gucci, and, most recently, featured on Lady Gaga in A Star is Born. Today, the brand is a full e-commerce site with clothes, shoes, and accessories.
Despite not having a storefront, Kim Shui has, since launching her brand in 2016, already dressed Kylie Jenner, Solange, and other A-list names, produced a line for VFILES, and conducted a guerilla-style takeover of Century 21. Shui’s clothes are flamboyant and extravagant—her signatures include patched coats like the mixed puffer, and a lace body suit.