Artist and designer Zeanne D’cunha breaks down the trend of Instagram buying
‘Instagram brands’ may be having a cultural moment, what with Kamal Harris' step-daughter and knitwear designer Ella Emhoff and ethical labels like Miaou and Aditi Mayer Studio maximising their marketability over the visual-led social media platform. But Mumbai-based artist-turned-designer Zeanne D’cunha thinks the success and industry dominance of the so-called Instagram brands may be a glimpse into post-pandemic fashion buying which prioritises convenient, conscious and narrative-driven collection over flashy splurging. “Instagram gives you the room to be yourself which is why labels like mine find it easier to showcase on the platform, you can put up your art and share its story, or put up reels and the narrative behind its design. In the last few months, especially with no exhibits or shows, brands have been looking for a steady medium of putting up their line-up for everyone to see and experience,” D’cunha observes.
So has Instagram managed to replace the flea market culture with its thrift labels and virtual concept stores? For niche brands like hand-embroidered jewellery label ZI By Zeanne virtual showcasing is definitely more viable in establishing a brand aesthetic; with customisations on the table it’s also more adaptable than instant, offline buying. “Shows are, of course, happening again. However a gathering is not without its anxieties at the moment, it may not be safe for brands to gather. Moreover, since we also customise, it’s definitely a great help with our buyers,” D’cunha adds.
As designer-led labels or wearable art brands steer their attention towards story-telling, it’s crucial to note how a personalised statement pick can help someone stand out, be it on Zoom or elsewhere. That’s also what drove D’cunha’s transition into full-time designing “I would make pieces only for myself; back then I was working at an ad agency and my colleagues loved what I was wearing, and would commission jewellery from me. One day I was called into the office of someone quite important at my company who loved my jewellery and wanted me to make something for her and everything snowballed into me taking design more seriously. Eventually I was able to take it up full-time and also recruit a small team,” D’cunha reveals.
Made-to-order, slow fashion pieces, especially narrative-driven kitsch is the ‘It’ commodity for virtual buying - a circuit almost entirely driven by visual aesthetic and also standalone discernibility. “The Anatomic Heart, for instance, is a good example of how different, one-of-a-kind pieces sell over Instagram. It’s made with organza, glass beads and vegan suede and was first commissioned by a doctor. One never expects a piece like this to do well, but it has a certain appeal and has been my biggest seller,” the designer shares. Similarly, Zeanne’s Van Gogh Edit, lines up some pop-coloured sunflower earrings and ring made with seed beads, organza and brass accents, while the Starry Night brooch comes with a detachable chain so it can be fashioned into a necklace.
Hot fashion tip: If you’re looking for pet-themed jewellery or want to personalise cute bling with your pet’s face, Zeanne also customises hand-embroidered pet portraits in the form of brooches, lapel pins or earrings, so you can actually carry your pet with you everywhere.