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Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid backstage at Balmain SS16
Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid backstage at Balmain SS16@balmainparis via Instagram

Balmain’s Instagram reach is bigger than the UK population

The combined social media followings of the house’s SS16 model line-up is quite staggering

Social media is something that lies at the very core of Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain. The Dazed 100 designer has over 1.3 million followers on Instagram and uses his reach to communicate his vision for the house to a wide and, crucially, young audience; harnessing the app’s democratising power. Everyone has access to the world of Balmain; not just the rich, famous and fashion industry professional. 

Rousteing’s savvy approach to social media feeds into his choice of models too, as evidenced by the line-up at his SS16 show. Cast by Jess Hallett, this show featured former Dazed cover star Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, along with a roster of other high-profile models including Gigi’s sister Bella, Alessandra Ambrosio, Doutzen Kroes, Lily Aldridge, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn

The combined Instagram reach of these models was a staggering 66,313,434 – more people than the entire population of the UK – with an average of 1,410,924 followers per person (last count this morning). Including Rousteing’s own account and that of Balmain, the total rises to 70 million and including Kris Jenner, who sat front row, it becomes just shy of 80 million. The majority of the models, along with Rousteing, Balmain, Jenner and other celebrities present, posted pictures from the show, meaning that the event had an Instagram reach of around 80 million people (though obviously there will have been some overlap).

With figures like that, it’s easy to see that Rousteing’s use of social media isn’t centred on flagrant self-promotion but rather, a “fashion for all” philosophy. “I’m not the kind of guy that says, ‘Oh, it’s for this crowd only, and only they can understand.’ I hate that,” he said. “I’m the happiest person when everyone can understand my show. I love when 14-year-olds write me on my Instagram going ‘I love your work, I love you so much for inspiring me.’” 

While some of Paris’s fashion houses maintain an air of enigma, with highly curated Instagram accounts – or, in the case of Céline – none at all, Rousteing’s and Balmain’s offer a very candid insight into their universe. Naturally this translates into sales; in fact an article penned for the Business of Fashion earlier this year revealed that the house’s revenue is growing about 20 per cent per year, thanks in part, to designer’s social media strategy. Fashion Instagram isn’t a game but if it was, Olivier is winning it.

Check out the gallery above for backstage images and watch the show itself below.