Last month, on my way to fashion shows in London, an Instagram account kept popping up in my conversations with editors: @stylenotcom. Named after the beloved style.com fashion news website, which closed in 2017 and was eventually consumed by vogue Runway, the account is quickly gaining followers for its equally obsessive coverage of the industry. Posts are text-based and written in all caps on a blue background, making them instantly stand out in your feed. (The design is inspired by the Colette store logo – another waste.) They combine helpful information (“RICK OWENS STARTS NOW”) with news (“SERENA WILLIAMS WALKED OFF-WHITE”) and commentary (“NOTHING IS COMING TRULY IN THE SPIRIT OF NYFW”) plus the occasional fashion history lesson. Compared to other fashion accounts like @dietprada, the tone is refreshingly simple and light, not looking to stir the pot but rather to revel in the drama of it all. Because there are no visuals, there is also a sense of mystery. Who posts all this? Based on their level of access, they seem to work in the industry. But is it an editor? A designer? An intern?
The man behind the curtain is Beka Gvishiani. He is 30 years old and lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has worked in fashion for years and was recently featured on the Forbes list “30 Under 30” in his country. But he’s also a great professional fan, having spent countless hours on the forums and on his old Tumblr, Glossy Newsstand. He’s the kind of person who can tell you who was on the cover of vogue Paris this month five years ago or which model opened the Miu Miu show in 1997.
Over the past two months, the account has grown from 3,000 followers to more than 17,000 and includes designers Jonathan Anderson, Matthieu Blazy and Marc Jacobs, among others. In recent weeks, Gvishiani has also used his account to publicize Ukraine. Living in a neighboring former Soviet country himself, he thinks it’s important.
“I’m really happy with the success of my account, but also stressed by all the news happening in Ukraine,” he said from Paris last week wearing a Stylenotcom cap. Below, we spoke to Gvishiani about his work and experience so far.
I saw that you paused your fashion posts for a day to Publish in support of Ukraine when the attacks began last month. Normally, what is your approach? How do you balance fashion coverage with what’s happening in the world right now?
With the situation in Ukraine, I decided to take a day off because I am Georgian. I live very close to Ukraine, and we went through the same thing in 2008 with Georgia and Russia, so I feel for them more than anyone. I used my stories and still use my stories to share news and information. I just didn’t feel like posting about fashion that day, about the Prada show. But I watched the show anyway, and within ten minutes I had written at least ten articles about it. However, none of them were about collecting – just things that I thought people would be interested in. At the recent Loewe men’s show, for example, everyone was talking about models, but there was 700 tons of sand under their feet, and I was like, I’m going to post about this because I work behind the scenes in fashion. I know the creators are top notch, but people like me are literally on all fours behind the scenes, working night shifts, and I want to appreciate the work they do. So mixing that stuff with the real news and what’s happening in the world and the memories of, like, First Miu Miu show in London in 1997.
How does it feel to be at Paris Fashion Week, attending shows for @stylenotcom now?
Fashion insiders – everyone, including me – are talking less and less about fashion; it’s all about the war and the current situation. People realize the disaster that is happening in Ukraine. But people are still sharing stories from Fashion Week because, for many of them, it’s just a normal working day.
How did you start in fashion?
I sometimes compare myself to Nigel of The devil wears Prada because he says when other guys were playing football he was going through vogue magazines. I’ve always been very interested in media and collected all kinds of magazines, not just fashion. At that time, in my city, around 2006 or 2007, the Internet was not something you could have. One day, while I was waiting for the bus to go home, I went to the newsstand and saw a vogue magazine, and he was completely different from all the others. There were shiny golden letters, and I thought, What is that? What’s going on inside? it was russian vogue. As we are so close to Russia, it was the only vogue available here. Still to this day you can only buy Russian vogue here. So I bought it. It cost around 20 lari, which at the time was around $10 or even $12. For a guy who was in school, maybe that was my weekly allowance. But I was really obsessed with the cover, so I bought it.
Do you remember what problem it was?
It was the Vogue Russia July 2008 issue. Natasha Poly was on the cover, photographed by Terry Tsiolis. The next month, I went back to the newsstand, and the woman said, “I get two copies a month, and I’m the only one in this town selling it.” But I can call you whenever it happens. So I developed a relationship with this lady from the newspaper, who literally sent me a message: “Beka, vogue is here.”
Wow, I love that you still remember the exact problem.
Then I had another problem and another problem. And then my parents surprised me with an internet connection at home. I started to search, “What is this vogue?” And I found out that there are Americans vogueFrench vogueItalian vogue – There are so many vogues! At that time there were about 18 editions. Then I found out Harper’s Bazaar magazine, identifier magazines, and O magazine, which was my absolute favorite in the early 2000s. I was in this world, and I thought, I want to do something here. So I dove further and found this online forum called Fashion Spot. I saw people talking about magazines as if it was the most important thing in life, and it became the same for me. My English wasn’t perfect and the forum didn’t really welcome new members as they were all serious experts. But I wanted to make a name for myself. So I tried to be one of the first to start a discussion about new covers. After two, three years, I had made 20,000 messages on the forum, and I was the main contributor. So I decided to start my own blog called Glossy Newsstand on Tumblr. Then the magazines started sharing their covers and editorials with me themselves.
So you’ve been doing this for a while! Do you still work in fashion?
When I moved to Tbilisi for college, I met a Georgian designer named Anouki, and when I was 21, I became the general manager of her brand. My friend and I also started a creative agency called Arial Bold, which still operates here in Georgia, and we help local brands produce shoots and catwalks and the like. But I continued to collect magazines. I used my 18th birthday money to buy three issues of vogue including the vogue Paris February 2008 with Naomi and Kate on the cover. I dreamed of this issue, and I still watch it once a week. When I first opened it, even the smell and touch took me to a completely different world. Today, I have over 1,000 copies of magazines in my hometown.
When did you decide to create @stylenotcom?
I opened the account in July last year. It was during the pandemic, and I didn’t have a lot of projects going on. I said to myself, Ok, there are people who can write better than me. There are people who are great journalists, who know the history of fashion, who live everything themselves in the moment; they have the chance to meet the designers. But maybe I could satisfy my interest in current affairs. It started to catch on when I went to Paris Fashion Week last September. One of the shows I was lucky enough to attend was Balenciaga’s red carpet show. I posted “Standing ovation for Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga”, “Naomi at Balenciaga”, “Cardi B at Balenciaga”. People were like, Oh my God, you make us want to see more, because I don’t post any visuals. An editor once told me, “It’s kind of erotic, even seductive, like you’re teasing us with everything you say.”
Were you a fan of style.com before it closed? I saw that you job when Tim Blanks gave you a hug.
I still get goosebumps when I hear the sound of “Style dot com”. Really. I was obsessed. I was super sad when it closed. I still have a few archive links to articles from 2001 to 2003. Some are broken, but you can still find gold information about parties and people from that era. And I backed up all YouTube videos because I was afraid that they would be deleted one day. It was 1,400 videos, but I downloaded them all.
Your account is quickly gaining subscribers. Marc Jacobs himself recently engaged with you. Diet Prada is an example of a successful fashion commentary account. They were supposed to have that kind of “outside” perspective, but then they got invited to shows and became “insiders” of sorts and lost some of their credibility. Have you thought about doing sponsored posts?
So far, I can say that I’ve already said no to a few very, very, very big brand partnerships in January and February. And again, I’m going to write a couple of no’s right after our conversation because, I mean, it’s my personal space. If I’m sharing ten posts about Glenn Martens’ fabulous Jean Paul Gaultier show, it’s because I absolutely loved it. I’ve learned to never say never, but for this fashion week, I’ve said no to all partnerships because it’s still early days. I’m not too tall. It’s my personal space, and I’m so glad these brands really understand that. Some people think I do PR for them, but no, I just write the facts and my real feelings.
Well, it was such a pleasure chatting with you. Your enthusiasm for fashion is something I think people are really craving right now. And I’m sure people in the industry are grateful that you recognize their work and are delighted with it.
I’m grateful they exist! These people make me happy every day. When I’m in a bad mood, I literally wander the streets to the soundtracks of the Balenciaga shows. When I wake up and need some energy, I just put on the Balenciaga Fall 2019 show soundtrack, and I’m on my feet. It’s stronger than a double, triple espresso for me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.