In­flu­ence Ped­dler


WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY NATALIE THEODOSI

Jeanne Damas looks to take

Rouge to the next level.

LON­DON — With 1 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram and a dis­tinctly Parisian look — which of­ten in­cludes a messy bob, red lip­stick and slip dresses ga­lore — Jeanne Damas is a pow­er­ful force on so­cial me­dia.

Out­side her work as a model and in­flu­encer, Damas has big am­bi­tions for her cloth­ing la­bel, Rouge, which started as an on­line, di­rect-to-con­sumer brand for the women fol­low­ing her on In­sta­gram. It has evolved into a fully fledged life­style house, with a new cos­met­ics range — and a foray into re­tail — set for 2019.

Both the per­sonal brand and cloth­ing la­bel have been built around the world­wide fas­ci­na­tion with ef­fort­less Parisian chic, which Damas em­bod­ies. A glance over her In­sta­gram shows myr­iad pic­tures of Parisian rooftops and of Damas cy­cling around Paris in high-waisted jeans and well-cut blaz­ers, smok­ing at her lo­cal café or loung­ing by the pool in the South of France in a barely there slip dress and de­signer Si­mon Porte Jacque­mus by her side.

She is per­fectly aware of the cliché, and she is will­ing to play with it.

“It is a cliché but at the same time

I am Parisian, I live in Paris so I don't have a prob­lem with it. I also know it is a mar­ket­ing tool and I try to be care­ful with it. I have my life, I keep a dis­tance from the vir­tual world of my In­sta­gram,” said Damas.

“That was also why I wrote my book, to play with the cliché of ev­ery­one say­ing that I'm the ul­ti­mate Parisian or a young Jane Birkin. I wanted to say, yes I am Parisian and I love a cliché but you can also get a taste of my real life and the real me. Her book, “In Paris,” which came out last year, shares an in­ti­mate view of life in the City of Light.

The Rouge col­lec­tion also has Paris at its heart with time­less, el­e­gant pieces at con­tem­po­rary price points, such as an­drog­y­nous check blaz­ers, body­hug­ging knits and wrap skirts in play­ful cherry or flo­ral prints.

Prices range from 90 eu­ros to 290 eu­ros.

“I know that my fol­low­ers are young, so it was im­por­tant for me to be ac­ces­si­ble. That is a part of the suc­cess, too, be­cause if it were too ex­pen­sive, peo­ple wouldn't be so will­ing to buy it on the In­ter­net,” said Damas, adding that she was pleas­antly sur­prised by how quickly likes were turn­ing into sales. “At the be­gin­ning we were un­sure about our pro­duc­tion quan­ti­ties, be­cause I had a big fol­low­ing but it could all just have been likes. That's why at the be­gin­ning Rouge was al­ways sold out, be­cause we un­der­es­ti­mated (the click-through rate).”

Rouge started as a so­cial me­dia brand: It was ranked among the top 10 In­sta­gram brands in Lyst's 2018 Year in Fash­ion re­port, and In­sta­gram re­mains an in­te­gral part of the jour­ney, ac­cord­ing to Damas. Yet her ul­ti­mate goal is to turn it into a fash­ion house that en­com­passes ev­ery as­pect of her life­style.

The de­mand ap­pears to be there: “Cus­tomers have been ask­ing me for makeup, travel, in­te­ri­ors, clothes, ev­ery­thing. I don't want to stop at clothes. I want to de­velop Rouge beyond an In­sta­gram brand into a fash­ion house. For me, it's a life­style. I might even open a restau­rant one day — it's all part of the same story,” said Damas.

“It is a real brand, with a strong team be­hind it, not just peo­ple look­ing to jump on a few trends. It's women de­sign­ing for other women; that's a big part of our suc­cess.”

Damas is part of a new wave of fe­male in­flu­encers, stylists, graphic de­sign­ers and mar­ke­teers who have gone on to launch their own brands, de­spite not hav­ing tra­di­tional de­sign train­ing, and have man­aged to quickly res­onate with con­sumers glob­ally for their sweet-spot pric­ing and prob­lem­solv­ing ap­proach to de­sign.

This week Damas launched a new line of lipsticks and has been play­ing on her sig­na­ture red pout.

There are four shades in­clud­ing a clas­sic red, a nude, an au­tum­nal brown and a light pink. Damas worked to achieve a “matte yet creamy, soft touch” while the gold pack­ag­ing is meant to chan­nel “vin­tage Saint Lau­rent vibes.”

As she aims to cre­ate the “ul­ti­mate Parisian kit,” Damas said she plans to re­lease a new shade ev­ery month, from April on­ward and is also look­ing to ex­pand to new cos­met­ics cat­e­gories.

Ev­ery­thing will be de­vel­oped in-house in or­der to keep the per­son­al­ity of the brand in­tact: “Rouge is about me and my life. It's very in­di­vid­ual and the story be­hind it is strong and true. That's why it's im­por­tant for us to cre­ate things on our own, we would only maybe part­ner with some­one for a spe­cial pro­ject.”

Re­tail is also in the works, as Damas looks to give the brand a new lease on life beyond its e-com­merce plat­form. She is plan­ning to host pop-ups in L.A. and Tokyo next April and is also in the mid­dle of scout­ing a lo­ca­tion in Paris for her first per­ma­nent bou­tique.

Jeanne Damas

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