We’ve all heard the popular Insta tropes: blue performs better than red, more posts are better than less, adding balloons helps engagement. Since the dawn of the Valencia filter, these were the unwritten rules influencers lived by in their mission to procure those ever-elusive followers.
In other words, don’t whisper your images, scream them—and hope someone hears. But fashion influencers are beholden to the capricious whims of fashion (one minute you’re in, the next minute you’re out). What if there’s been a shift? As the algorithm continues to perplex and frustrate, as likes become harder to get, and followers leave faster than new ones come onboard, what if now, less is actually more?
There is a rising crop of “fashion influencers” skipping the blue, the red, and the balloons in favour of a neutral palette with gilded accents and an overall lack of colour. It’s less about cupcakes or peonies, and more about Pierre Jeanneret chairs or a well-made cappuccino—and a growing community of Instagram’s more than one billion members are here for the makeunder.
It’s almost impossible to chart who started what trend on a platform like Instagram, but the originators of what we’re calling the “Beige Movement” could be considered Pernille Teisbaek, Marie von Behrens of @MVB, Christie Tyler of @NYCBambi, and Debora Rosa, the tastemaker behind both her own namesake account and @fashiiongonerogue. There’s also Sylvie of @SylvieMus_, Tylynn Nguyen, Beatrice Gutu, Sophia Roe, and @oljaryz by Olja Ryzevski. They live in New York, Portugal, Copenhagen, Paris, and Berlin. Their feeds consist of selfies with dappled lighting, Franz Kline paintings, mid-century modern furniture, vintage cars, marble bathrooms, and buttery outfit posts. They garner inspiration from minimalism icons like the original Calvin Klein PR girl, the late Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, post-NYU Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and the original supermodels at their most pared back: Kate, Naomi, Christy.
While Debora Rosa likes to stick to modern silhouettes in neutral, earthy tones for a timeless grid that she calls “masculine with a feminine twist,” Christie Tyler prefers a “melting pot of aesthetics” with vintage pieces sitting alongside her minimalist favourites. “My aesthetic is very neutral-focused, as you might be able to tell,” says Tyler, “but I also love classic vintage pieces that will last in any wardrobe.”
What they, and accounts like theirs, have in common are the flagship brands on heavy Instagram rotation, including #OldCeline (Phoebe Philo continues her reign from beyond retirement), new Bottega Veneta, The Row, Gabriela Hearst, Christopher Esber, Peter Do (formerly of #OldCeline), newcomer Khaite, influencer-founded brand Totême, and The Frankie Shop.
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With 200,000 followers, Tyler, who recently graduated from university, has been slowly building her dedicated Instagram audience for five years. Her feed promotes “a sustainable wardrobe” where vintage and resale are not only welcome but celebrated (notice the Old in Old Céline). Because a good beige pant, a breezy white dress, and a great black sandal simply won’t go out of style.
“If you look at my Instagram, you will notice the same pieces, just styled differently,” explains Tyler. “It’s real life and a real wardrobe, which I think is nice for my followers to see because they can use the same piece and style it in their own ways too.”
At its core, this type of simplicity seems poorly suited for the social media channel most associated with a capitalist’s dream of consumption: a place where logos rule and a rainbow of colours (or at least millennial pink and a saturated filter) are king.
For this minimalist approach, less is literally more.
“People feel overwhelmed with so many new things on offer every day,” says Rosa. “[My Instagram] is a way of avoiding over-consumption and mass production, a lifestyle of being comfortable with less clutter surrounding yourself and your life. With the fast pace of daily life, people want something timeless and chic that makes them feel comfortable and good about themselves every day.”
She’s not wrong. Americans on average buy more than five garments every month, and discard 70 pounds of garments every year, according to The Council for Textile Recycling. We are all suffering from shopping fatigue, and the message that these Instagram accounts are selling is a welcome antidote. It’s not simply that women should invest in timeless pieces. It’s that in 2019, with only 11 years to save the planet from irreversible damage, promoting an endless stream—or feed—of new, trendy, and often fast-fashion products is frankly passé.
These “neutral” accounts appeal to the woman who will save up for The Row sandals in summer, a Max Mara coat in winter, a Bottega Veneta clutch, or an heirloom Chanel 5.5. It’s luxury that lasts. And at the very least, these posts make a stronger case for the ever-growing resale market. And doesn’t that make for a pretty picture?
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK.