Cal­i­for­nia girl

Song of Style is the ve­hi­cle for Los An­ge­les-based In­sta­gram dar­ling AIMEE SONG. In Seoul, she chats with KIM BUI KOL­LAR about her ar­dent fol­low­ing

#Legend - - ICON - Pho­tog­ra­phy / Ja­copo Moschin Styling / Kim Bui Kol­lar Fash­ion / Louis Vuit­ton

AIMEE SONG has 4.6 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers and that amounts to some ma­jor so­cial cur­rency. To­day that’s al­most all you need in the way of an in­tro­duc­tion, with­out be­ing a tra­di­tional celebrity or the off­spring of one, On a re­cent trip for a pho­to­shoot in Seoul, the bub­bly Los An­ge­les-based in­te­rior de­signer and blog­ger (aka @songof­style) re­veals some se­crets to her In­sta­gram suc­cess.

When I meet her in her ho­tel room, Aimee (pro­nounced “ahh-mee”) is in hair and make-up, sur­rounded by a group of young women tend­ing to her beauty needs. I get com­fort­able on the couch next to her chair as she’s get­ting the fin­ish­ing touches done on her hair. Armed with my ques­tions in my head, I take a breath be­fore I start. But she beats me to the punch: “When did you get to Seoul? Are you lov­ing it?

I haven’t seen you since Paris.”

I han­dle most of the talk­ing as we do the req­ui­site warm-up chat. Aimee asks loads of ques­tions about my his­tory and my re­la­tion­ship with the de­sign­ers she’s seen me with. And she asks with such gen­uine in­ter­est and deft­ness, I al­most for­get who’s sup­posed to be­ing in­ter­view­ing who – well, al­most. As the beauty team fin­ishes, Aimee takes a pho­to­graph with ev­ery­one and asks for all of their so­cial me­dia monikers in Korean for tag­ging pur­poses.

We hop into a black Mercedes with her pho­tog­ra­pher boyfriend, Ja­copo, and there’s even more shar­ing. Like a see-saw, the con­ver­sa­tion is a con­stant back-and-forth as she asks to see pho­tos of my fam­ily; she com­ments on my kids, in­clu­sively pass­ing the phone to Ja­copo in the front. Aimee is a true South­ern Cal­i­for­nia girl – and those from Cal­i­for­nia know

the im­por­tance of this SoCal dis­tinc­tion. Head­ing north to at­tend the Academy of Art Univer­sity in San Fran­cisco for her de­gree in in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture, she found her­self com­pletely ill-pre­pared for the Bay Area cli­mate, with a wardrobe of denim cut-off shorts and other warm-weather garb.

Be­yond the spe­cific world of celebrity be­fore Hedi Sli­mane set up camp in Cal­i­for­nia – pretty much lim­ited to ei­ther mu­sic or the sil­ver screen – Los An­ge­les was not a place of in­flu­ence for fash­ion in the way that Paris and New York were. There was def­i­nitely a style ref­er­ence spe­cific to the re­gion, but it com­ple­mented a way of life and its in­ter­ests, gen­er­ally lack­ing the no­table di­ver­sity and ex­tremes of the Fash­ion Week cities. But that’s all changed to­day, as LA has rapidly be­come a prime spot on the style map.

We ar­rive at the Dong­dae­mun De­sign Plaza, de­signed by star­chi­tect Zaha Ha­did as a cul­tural and ex­hi­bi­tion hall in the cen­tre of Seoul and which opened in 2014. It be­came the most tagged place in Seoul in 2015 on In­sta­gram – the re­search is still un­der­way to dis­cover if its so­cial im­por­tance can be at­trib­uted more to the Ha­did de­sign or to the fact that Korean tele­vi­sion drama You Who Came from the Stars was filmed there that year. Black Mercedes num­ber two is wait­ing for us at the lo­ca­tion: a Sprinter for Aimee to do her out­fit changes. We de­cide on the first look and the shoot be­gins.

Aimee’s first blog post was in 2008, while she was still in school – long be­fore the ubiq­uity of In­sta­gram and so­cial me­dia as we now know it. To­day’s shoot is fairly low-key in terms of pro­duc­tion but it’s quite ob­vi­ous to see that she’s well versed in be­ing pho­tographed for street style, which is dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent from the ex­tremes in poses and an­gles of fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy. There’s no mu­sic to give the shoot a spe­cific am­bi­ence, but Aimee makes up for it with gig­gles and chit-chat be­tween shots. Fun and laid-back, I get the feel­ing that if some­one had sug­gested we sing our own tunes, she would have been the first to croon.

For Aimee’s 30th birth­day last year, rather than stag­ing a lav­ish party, she took a dif­fer­ent path and cel­e­brated with New York-based non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Char­ity: Wa­ter, which helps pro­vide clean, safe drink­ing wa­ter to peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing na­tions. Par­tic­u­larly dis­heart­ened at see­ing ba­sic rights such as ed­u­ca­tion de­nied to young chil­dren while she was trav­el­ling through In­dia, Aimee felt that she could help with an even more fun­da­men­tal need. Char­ity: Wa­ter uses

100 per cent of its do­na­tions to build wells around ru­ral parts of In­dia and she wanted to lever­age her broad so­cial me­dia in­flu­ence – 100,000 YouTube sub­scribers and 4.1 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers at the time – to rally sup­port for the cause.

“Aimee needs to be cred­ited for be­ing part of the orig­i­nal golden blog­ger crew from Los An­ge­les that has started a bit of a move­ment. Maybe it’s the mag­i­cal Cal­i­for­nia light that al­lows for op­ti­mum images or the am­ple bougainvil­lea ev­ery­where”

The re­sult: nearly US$82,000 was raised and a pow­er­ful PSA video on her blog that con­tin­ues to drive sup­port for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

What’s the magic that makes Song of Style? We asked a few brands who’ve worked with Aimee to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing. “She was one of the first to wear our Aza­e­lea dress and helped to make that style one of our brand’s iconic pieces,” shares Han Chong, cre­ative di­rec­tor and founder of Lon­don-based Self-Por­trait. To put it into tan­gi­ble numbers, the Aza­e­lea dress is now in its 12th sea­son of sell­ing – re­tail­ers just don’t want to see it go.

Since Aimee has such an in­cred­i­ble fol­low­ing (read: a will­ing au­di­ence) and has ef­fec­tively been able to move large quan­ti­ties of prod­ucts for other brands, wouldn’t a col­lec­tion of her own seem like a natural busi­ness de­ci­sion? Her an­swer: no in­ter­est. She prefers to do col­lab­o­ra­tions and has a few un­der her belt, such as a cap­sule col­lec­tion for Korean eye­wear brand Gen­tle Mon­ster. With her sis­ter, Dani, she has a project called Two Songs, in which they de­sign graphic (and a bit cheeky) T-shirts and sweat­shirts based on causes that they want to help –breast cancer aware­ness, love for all and so forth. Some of the pro­ceeds from sales are do­nated to or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing with each spe­cific fo­cus. To­day, she’s brought the brand’s Love Wins T-shirt to in­clude in the shoot.

Aimee needs to be cred­ited for be­ing part of the orig­i­nal “golden blog­ger” crew from Los An­ge­les (along­side Sin­cerely Jules and Rumi Neely) that has started a bit of a move­ment. Maybe it’s the mag­i­cal Cal­i­for­nia light that al­lows for op­ti­mum images or the am­ple bougainvil­lea ev­ery­where. But it seems like a lot of girls have moved to LA or popped up as of lately – Garance Doré, Chiara Fer­ra­gani, Chriselle Lim and Vanessa Hong, to name a few.

Ten years is a sub­stan­tial amount of time to work at anything. The pro­duc­tion value of Aimee’s out­put has clearly got­ten bet­ter with time. Af­ter hav­ing spent an af­ter­noon with her, it’s clear to see why she has se­cured a last­ing and prime po­si­tion in the sphere of so­cial me­dia in­flu­ence – the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of her pretty aes­thetic, her gen­uine warmth, and the abil­ity to share and be silly with her com­pany. Let’s not for­get that there have been a few time­less songs writ­ten about Cal­i­for­nia girls.

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