Undisputed model of the moment, Kaia Gerber, is set to change the face of fashion
Kaia Gerber on classic timepieces and Insta fame.
“I still get surprised if someone knows my name. I’m like, ‘Wait, are you talking to me?’ I don’t expect it, ever,” says Kaia Gerber. The teenage model is holding her own like a pro at a press gathering in Berlin, fielding questions on her skyrocketing fame. “I was about 13 when one person started following me on Instagram and I thought, ‘How did they find me?’ From there it became how it is now.”
“Now” is 3.6 million Instagram followers, contracts with Saint Laurent, Valentino, Alexander Wang and Chanel, and more recently, Omega – the Swiss luxury watchmaker who brought Gerber on as the face of the relaunch of Trésor, introducing a new generation to “a reimagined classic”.
At 16, Gerber has become somewhat of a post-millennial poster child for luxury fashion brands looking to appeal to a younger, cooler, more connected kind of customer. For Omega, the relationship goes deeper. Gerber’s mother, Cindy Crawford, is the brand’s longest-serving ambassador.
“When she was born, Omega was already in existence,” says CEO Raynald Aeschlimann of Gerber’s early introduction to the brand. The chief executive was promoted to the post in 2016 with a vision to reach out to generation Y, but working with Crawford’s daughter, he says, goes beyond a short-term grab at a growing market share. “Come 10 years, Kaia will still be around [with the brand], if she wants.”
For Gerber, memories of the 2008 Beijing Olympics – where she travelled as a six-year-old with her mum as guests of the official timekeeper – cemented her decision to work with the brand. That, and the nostalgia she feels for Crawford’s own timepieces. “I remember when I was a kid, going into her closet. I’d find her watches and they’d be so big on me.”
With smartphones, the essential function of a watch is no longer, well, essential. But that’s okay. “People of my generation don’t rely on watches to tell the time. They’ve become a classic piece. Like perfume or earrings, they’re an accessory.”
In terms of her own style, Gerber is already following the sacred rule of less is more. A tomboy at heart, she spent her formative years pinching her older brother’s clothes (Presley Gerber is also a model and Omega ambassador) and now opts for “relaxed and simple” with “a bit of an edge”. “I wear jeans and sneakers every day,” she says. On her wrist is the new Trésor (naturally), with its slim case, jet-black strap and smattering of diamonds, worn with an irreverence only the young and preternaturally beautiful can muster.
She’s clearly a product of her Californian upbringing, where she still retreats for downtime or to catch up on schoolwork between jobs. “I’ll come back from Paris and do pre-calculus the next day,” she laughs. Like so many 16-year-olds, her Instagram feed is filled with shots of pool time with friends, hanging with her dad, causes like March For Our Lives for tighter gun control, and snaps of herself. The only difference being her “snaps” are lensed by the likes of Mario Sorrenti or Peter Lindbergh.
It’s been a sharp trajectory for Gerber: signed at 13 to IMG, given her first front cover with her mum at age 14, the face of Marc Jacobs Beauty at 15, and debuting on the runway for Calvin Klein just four days after her 16th birthday (the legal age limit for models walking on the runway). But with grace and professionalism, no doubt instilled at least in part by Crawford, she tactfully sidesteps the question of, “What’s next?” “I don’t know. I mean, I think most 16-year-olds don’t know what they’re going to do with their life, but as long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing in the moment then I just roll with it and see where it takes me.”
”WATCHES HAVE BECOME A CLASSIC PIECE. LIKE PERFUME OR EARRINGS, THEY’RE AN ACCESSORY”
Watch, $6,675, OMEGA, omegawatches.com