While H&M and Target have made headlines over the years for their hyped-up collaborations with big-name designers, the former's sister brand & Other Stories has been rolling them out just as frequently, albeit with lesser known (but still cool) people like Rachel Antonoff, Clare Vivier and Lykke Li. Its latest collaborator may be its most under-the-radar yet: Ada Kokosar, a stylist who appears frequently in street style galleries, but otherwise is relatively unknown outside of the industry.
As Lauren Sherman has pointed out on this website, semi-obscure influencers are making collaborations exciting again. But perhaps more interesting than the Swedish chain's decision to partner with someone like Kokosar is the way in which it's chosen to promote the collaboration, which is, obscurely. In tandem with Kokosar, it's launched a new Instagram account, @adakokosarstories, which is curated by Giorgia Tordini (a "creative consultant" and friend of Kokosar's) and will post behind-the-scenes peeks at the collection up until it hits stores on Sept. 17.
"It's been Ada's idea to spread the word through Instagram and we like the idea that the account will grow in an organic way," explained a spokesperson for & Other Stories via email, who also noted that the account is only meant to "capture the period around the launch." An ephemeral Instagram account with no existing followers hardly seems like the most effective way to promote a collaboration with someone most people have never heard of; Kokosar herself has a respectable but modest 8,949 followers. It's the exact opposite approach most brands take these days — getting influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers or more to wear and/or talk about their products on Instagram. (See: Kendall Jenner in Balmain for H&M.)
At the same time, the fact that & Other Stories did not take the latter approach is a large part of why I like the brand so much. While it is a big, international chain store with a rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar business behind it, it doesn't feel like one. The clothes are unassuming but cool — not overly trendy, obvious knockoffs of runway looks. You can go into the store twice in one month and actually see some of the same items. The stores feel more like boutiques than fast fashion chains, and these collaborations give it a certain "It" factor, while remaining attainable and affordable.
While the @adakokosarstories Instagram account may not provide a ton of exposure for the line, other placements — like this one on Vogue.com — and Kokosar's inevitable appearance in street style galleries while wearing the collection during Fashion Month certainly won't hurt. And hopefully with H&M as its parent company's cash cow, & Other Stories can stay just the way it is without succumbing to the inauthentic promotional tactics of some of its competitors.