Influencer Sylvie Utudijan from Uberchique talking about fashion, conscious shopping and social media
A: You are a fashion influencer with over 57k followers on Instagram, you are attending fashion shows from Valentino to Chanel regularly and you are running your wonderful webshop ‘Uberchique’ with high-end fashion and interior items. How did that all started and when did you start thinkíng about becoming an influencer?
S: In truth, I stumbled upon it by accident! There certainly wasn’t a business plan prepared for Uberchique nor did I have any knowledge of what an influencer was at the beginning. It all began after returning home from a trip to Paris in 2015 when I asked my teenage daughter if it would be possible to share fashion pictures on Instagram, anonymously. She said yes and set up an account for me that evening. The account was not called Uberchique at that time. It had a different name (which I will keep to myself) but soon thereafter Uberchique was born and given its name. After posting my first pictures from my trip to Paris (anonymously) I quickly realized the power of social media, more specifically, Instagram. I proceeded to follow numerous accounts of fashion influencers that inspired me and I understood that I also wanted to share my style with the world. I completed a course in social media in London to better understand the possibilities out there and here we are some 4 years later.
A: What was the most difficult obstacle for you and how did you manage it?
S: The biggest obstacle was posting pictures of myself in such a public forum. I am a very shy person by nature and enjoy my privacy but building a business and creating a brand based on my own personal fashion sense meant transmitting my message in the public. This forced me to create selfies of my daily outfits in hopes of inspiring others about my style. The response was very positive and this further motivated me to continue building my business into what it is today.
A: How important is Instagram for you and how much time are you investing in this platform per day?
S: I would say about 2 hours a day of engaging with my followers. Contact creation, research, copywriting, photo shoots amount to about 10 hours a week, so in total about 20-25 hours a week. Instagram is exploding at the moment, therefore it is key in driving existing and new audiences to my website.
S: Definitely no likes, as it is much healthier for everyone. I must admit I have fretted (unnecessarily) over one or two posts, if that post has underperformed. If likes are removed people (me included) will worry less about a post’s performance and focus more on the actual content. It shouldn’t be a popularity contest. I cannot wait for the likes to be removed in Austria!
A: Talking about fashion: Your style is very feminine paired with a classy sassy drive without beeing too trendy. Do you like to experiment with styles?
S: I do, but I will only deviate from my classic style via new materials or trending colors. I generally like to stick with certain silhouettes. If a new silhouette is trending I will interpret that into my style, but at the end of the day when I style my outfits it has to suit me. The outfits can be very different: from preppy to something more like what I’m wearing today (Nanushka dress, Vegan Leather). There always has to be a common thread in my wardrobe. If I take up a new trend it still has to be classic elegant.
S: 100% online. It is much more efficient than shopping in town.
A: How many packages do you have to send back?
S: Well, I do make mistakes! I would say I have to send back about 20 percent of the time.
A: What are your three keypieces which you can’t live without?
S: I’m not an IT-Bag girl. I find that a waste of money. So I like to invest in classic bags that will last a lifetime. My black Hermes Kelly handbag is definitely one of those pieces.
Another key piece would be a classic beige trench coat.
Lastly, an Alexancder McQueen leather belt, the most genius leather belt I have ever owned. It’s thin stretch-leather and winds around your waist as many times as you want. It pulls every outfit together.
A: As you know sustainablilty is on my mind. It comes from my bursting closet full of clothes I rarely wore and wanted to give away after 7 times wearing (or less). I have created a Shopping Mind Map, which should help me to avoid failed purchases or to have another dust collector in my wardrobe. It contains questions about the need of the cloth, how often I will wear it, how many matching outfits I have, how this item is produced, etc…So my question is: Do you have shopping rules? This means, do you ask how it is produced or how often you will wear it?
S: I would say that style is in fact the number one factor driving my decision to purchase an item. Second would be practicality or how it was produced. I recently added a winter coat by Mother of Pearl (an eco brand) to my webshop. I love it because it’s not only beautiful but the company is devoted to sourcing their materials responsibly! I think that’s a great approach to satisfying this very important need while remaining current and fashionable.
A: And re rules of buying: As you know I’m very keen to try not to waste anything, do you ask yourself how long will I keep it or what do I do with it afterwards: can I resell or swap it?
S: I do think about resale, that’s why I like to invest in good pieces. I know it will last for a long time and retain its value. I also have two daughters so I give them a lot of my old pieces that are of high quality. I feel terrible when I buy Fast Fashion because I know the pieces do not last very long and that they will end up polluting the environment. I’m always giving clothes to friends or to people who can still wear it. I would never throw anything out. I prefer to invest in high quality pieces that justify the price. I’m happy about Zara’s new decision to ethically source materials.
A: What do you think about the ambition of high-end brands like Prada or Burberry to become more sustainable? Both have econyl jackets in their latest collections. Is that the way brands will go more in future?
S: Definitely! They are leading the way and it’s just a matter of time before other brands (small and big) follow suit. The potential of lost market share is far too big for the big fashion brands. More and more companies will begin using new innovative materials to keep up with this ever increasing demand or else they will face the repercussions. I think governments should reward brands that do adopt environmentally sustainable practices through tax breaks.
A: In your shop you have many sustainable brands from netsustain, it’s the sustainable plattform of net-a-porter. Do you have a wishlist on Uberchique with sustainable inspired gifting ideas?
A: It’s so soft and looks like leather. Thank you so much for this interview, Sylvie!