Last month, while traveling around to fashion shows in London, one Instagram account kept coming up over and over again in my conversations with editors: @stylenotcom. Named after the beloved fashion-news website style.com, which shuttered in 2017 and was eventually consumed by vogue Runway, the account is quickly gaining followers for its similarly obsessive coverage of the industry. Posts are text based and written in all caps on a blue background, making them instantly stand out in your feed. (The design is inspired by the Colette store logo — another loss.) They combine helpful information (“RICK OWENS STARTS NOW”) with news (“SERENA WILLIAMS WALKED OFF-WHITE”) and commentary (“NOTHING REALLY COMES TO MIND ABOUT NYFW ”) plus the occasional fashion-history lesson. Compared with other fashion accounts like @dietprada, the tone is refreshingly straightforward and lighthearted, not looking to stir the pot but rather reveling in the drama of it all. Because there are no visuals, it has a sense of mystery as well. Who is posting all this? Based on their level of access, they seem to work in the industry. But are they an editor? To design? An intern?
The man behind the curtain is Beka Gvishiani. He’s 30 years old and lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has worked in fashion for years and was recently featured on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in his country. But he’s also something of a professional superfan, having logged many, many hours on forums and on his former Tumblr, Glossy Newsstand. He’s the kind of person who can tell you who was on the cover of vogue Paris this month five years ago or which model opened the Miu Miu show in 1997.
In the past two months, the account has gone from 3,000 followers to over 17,000 and counting including designers Jonathan Anderson, Matthieu Blazy, and Marc Jacobs. In recent weeks, Gvishiani has also used his account to raise awareness about Ukraine. Living in a neighboring former Soviet country himself, he feels it’s important.
“I’m really happy with the success of my account, but also stressed with all the news happening in Ukraine,” he said from Paris last week while wearing a Stylenotcom baseball hat. Below, we spoke to Gvishiani about his work and his experience so far.
I saw that you paused posting about fashion for a day to post in support of Ukraine when the attacks began last month. Normally, what is your approach? How are you balancing coverage of fashion with what’s happening in the world right now?
With the situation in Ukraine, I decided to take a day off because I am Georgian. I live very close to Ukraine, and we experienced the same thing in 2008 with Georgia and Russia, so I feel for them more than anyone. I used my Stories and am still using my Stories for sharing news and information. I just didn’t feel like posting about fashion that day, about Prada’s show. But I still watched the show, and within ten minutes, I had drafted at least ten posts about it. None of them were about the collection, though — just things I thought people would be interested in. At the recent Loewe men’s show, for example, everyone was posting about models, but there were 700 tons of sand under their feet, and I was like, I’m going to post about this because I work backstage in fashion. I know that designers are on top, but people like me are backstage literally on their hands and knees, working nights, and I want to appreciate the work they are doing. So mixing this sort of thing with the real news and what’s happening in the world and memories from, like, Miu Miu’s first show in London in 1997.
What’s it been like to be at Paris Fashion Week, attending shows for @stylenotcom now?
Fashion insiders — everyone, including me — are talking less and less about fashion; it’s all about war and the ongoing situation. People are realizing what a disaster is happening in Ukraine. But people are still sharing Fashion Week stories because, for many of them, it’s just a regular day at work.
How did you get started in fashion?
I sometimes compare myself with Nigel from The Devil Wears Prada because he says that when other guys were playing football, he was going through vogue magazines. I was just always very interested in media, and I would collect all kinds of magazines — not just fashion. At that time in my city, around 2006 or 2007, the internet was not a thing you could have. One day, when I was waiting for the bus to go home, I went to the newspaper kiosk and saw a vogue magazine, and it was completely different from all the others. It had shiny gold lettering, and I thought, What is this? What’s happening inside? It was Russian vogue. Since we are so close to Russia, it was the only vogue available here. Still to this day, you can only buy Russian vogue here. So I bought it. It cost around 20 lari, which at that time was around $10 or even $12. For a guy who was in school, it was maybe my weekly allowance. But I was really obsessed with the cover, so I bought it.
Do you remember what issue it was?
It was the Vogue Russia July 2008 issue. Natasha Poly was on the cover, photographed by Terry Tsiolis. The next month, I went back to the newspaper kiosk, and the woman told me, “I get two copies a month, and I’m the only one in this city who sells them. But I can call you every time it comes.” So I developed a relationship with this newspaper lady, who would literally send me a message: “Beka, vogue is here.”
Wow, I love that you still remember the exact issue.
Then I got another issue and another issue. And then my parents surprised me with an internet connection at home. I started searching, “What’s vogue?” And I discovered that there is American vogueEnglish vogueItalian vogue — there are so many vogues! At that time, there were around 18 editions. Then I discovered Harper’s Bazaar magazine, ID magazine W magazine, which was my absolute favorite in the early 2000s. I was in this world, and I thought, I want to do something here. So I dove in further and found this online forum called the Fashion Spot. I saw that people were discussing magazines like it was the most important thing in life, and it was becoming the same thing for me. My English was not perfect, and the forum was not really welcoming to new members because they were all serious experts. But I wanted to make a name for myself. So I tried to be one of the first to start a discussion about new covers. After two, three years, I’d made 20,000 posts on the forum, and I was the main contributor. So I decided to start my own blog called Glossy Newsstand on Tumblr. Then magazines started sharing covers and editorials themselves to me.
So you’ve been doing this for a while! Do you still work in fashion?
When I moved to Tbilisi for university, I met a Georgian designer named Anouki and, at the age of 21, became the general manager of her brand. Me and my friend also started a creative agency called Arial Bold, which still operates here in Georgia, and we help local brands to produce shoots and runway shows, etc. But I still continued collecting magazines. I used my 18th birthday money to buy three issues of vogue including the vogue Paris February 2008 with Naomi and Kate on the cover. I’d been dreaming of this issue, and I still look at it like once a week. When I opened it for the first time, even the smell and touch of it brought me to a completely different world. Today, I have more than 1,000 copies of magazines in my hometown.
When did you decide to start @stylenotcom?
I started the account in July of last year. It was during the pandemic, and I didn’t have many projects going on. I said to myself, Okay, there are people who can write better than me. There are people who are big journalists, who know fashion history, who experience everything themselves in the moment; they have a chance to meet with the designers. But maybe I could satisfy my interest in the news. It started to catch on when I went to Paris Fashion Week last September. One of the shows I had the chance to attend was the Balenciaga red-carpet show. I posted, “Standing ovation for Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga,” “Naomi at Balenciaga,” “Cardi B at Balenciaga.” People were like, Oh my God, you are making us desire to see more, because I post no visuals. An editor once told me, “It’s kind of erotic, even seductive, like you’re teasing us with all you say.”
Were you a fan of style.com before it shut down? I saw that you posted when Tim Blanks gave you a hug.
I still get goose bumps when I hear the sound of “Style dot com.” Really. I was obsessed. I was super sad when it closed. I still have some archival links to articles from 2001 to 2003. Some are broken, but you can still find some gold information about the parties and about the people from that time. And I saved all the YouTube videos because I was scared they could be deleted one day. It was 1,400 videos, but I downloaded all of them.
Your account is rapidly gaining followers. Marc Jacobs himself recently engaged with you. Diet Prada is an example of a fashion-commentary account that had a lot of success. They were supposed to have this sort of “outsider” perspective, but then they got invited to shows and became “insiders,” in a way, and lost some of their credibility. Have you thought at all about doing sponsored posts?
So far, I can say that I’ve already said no to a few partnerships from very, very, very big brands in January and February. And still, I’m going to write two or three noes right after our talk because, I mean, it’s my personal space. If I share ten posts about Glenn Martens’s fabulous Jean Paul Gaultier show, it’s because I really loved it. I’ve learned to never say never, but for this fashion week, I have said no to all partnerships because it’s still early. I’m not too big. It’s my personal space, and I’m so happy that these brands really understand that. Some people think I’m doing the PR for them, but no, I’m just writing the facts and my real feelings.
Well, it’s been such a pleasure chatting with you. Your enthusiasm for fashion is something I think people are really craving right now. And I’m sure people in the industry are grateful that you are recognizing their work and are excited about it.
I’m grateful that they exist! These people make me excited every day. When I’m in a bad mood, I literally walk through the streets to the soundtracks of Balenciaga shows. When I wake up and need energy, I just put on the Balenciaga fall 2019 show soundtrack, and I’m up. It’s stronger than a double, triple espresso for me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.