Do You Shop on Instagram? Maybe You Should

I think I hit a nerve when I wrote about the Maison Cleo top that I purchased through Instagram earlier this summer. It now seems infamous among the denizens of my various social feeds, and since the initial transaction took place, I have acquired two more tops motivated by the same purpose: to quell a shopping impulse ignited exclusively through Instagram.

One top was from The Frankie Shop (it is eyelet and maintains shoulder pads).

Another top I bought on Instagram

A post shared by Leandra (Medine) Cohen (@leandramcohen) on

The other is from a brand called Ciao Lucia. This one has not arrived yet, so there is no photographic evidence of its existence on my person just yet, but I am confident that it will do what the former two tops did: 1) satisfy my hankering for something new while having me believe that I’m a true discoverer, a pioneer among the indie fashion wallets of Instagram, and 2) reinforce a wildly original thesis — one that no one else on this earth, particularly not in the field of fashion, has touched upon before — that consumer behaviors, even among consumers who consider themselves brand loyalists (me), are changing rapidly.

I have always believed myself to be profoundly brand loyal. Call it a function of the fact that I was raised among the mighty giants (Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus and Barneys) of yore. They housed labels that maintained the singular transformative quality most young, impressionable fashion fanatics lust after: clothes that could make me a better woman, that would initiate, inaugurate, understand a version of me that I myself did not yet know. These clothes were more than clothes; they were practically breathing organisms. They unlocked a set of gates before me and opened up a case study in stunning self-discovery, of soul. My soul! And the reason they mattered was because of the story they told, and the story they told belonged to the gatekeeper: the brands who made them.

But I wonder if any of that matters anymore. If I can reap the intrinsic benefits of feeling like I belong, like I’m being understood, like I’m part of something bigger just from buying a one-off top that I found on Instagram while mindlessly scrolling one Sunday afternoon, what does that say about the brand equity that once governed my shopping habits? In the spirit of moving on, not dwelling on the past or trying to fit a square peg into a mold that can no longer hold it, here are six great Instagram shops to consider.

1. Maison Cleo

Obviously. It was the gateway drug. To jog your memory: This shop is run by a mother/daughter duo based in France. They make everything by hand and that’s why they are so frequently out of stock.

2. Aurore van Milhem

Give your best French sexy look with our PSYCHÉ dream 💋⚡️#madeinparis #sexychicks #frenchbrand

A post shared by Aurore Van Milhem (@aurorevanmilhemparis) on

For the sake of geographic consistence, here is another brand born out of France (Paris), boasting product not unlike that of Maison Cleo’s offering, but which is interestingly set up with an e-commerce component that is only set-up for desktop, not mobile. This adds an additional barrier to the acquisition process but I don’t know, it seems worth it?

3. Mars

Silver Heartbreak hoops @girlsmoneyclub 💔🌹

A post shared by MARS (@_marsofficial) on

Harling really found this one for me — it’s a compendium of jewelry (most of it plexiglas, which is so damn cool) handmade in New Zealand and the heartbreak hoops photographed above? I bought those while I was writing this.

4. Becca Jewellery

In other cool jewelry brands discovered through Instagram outside of the United States: Becca Jewellery, which has really picked up on the recent influx in pearls populating fashion ears and necks and wrists and the like. I’m nuts about the ones photographed above.

5. Lucia Zolea

Rare Gucci Perfume Pendant Necklace online now 📿

A post shared by Lucia Zolea (@luciazolea) on

Lucia Zolea is a vintage shop that generates a ton of its business through Instagram, which has been on the radars of Harling, Amelia and myself since at least five days ago when this Gucci perfume pendant necklace was posted (it is still available for a cool $540, FYI). This particular account speaks to a different culture of shopping avenues, namely those generated by second hand and vintage wears, emerging through Instagram and globalizing the one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

6. Ciao Lucia

Allegra top in shell 🐚

A post shared by CIAO LUCIA! (@ciao__lucia) on

Contrary to titular implications, Ciao Lucia is actually based in Los Angeles. I came across the Instagram account through another, Reese Blutstein’s Double Exposure, which really adds another layer of beautiful complexity to this entire equation. (See that blue blouse at the top of the post? It’s Ciao Lucia, too.) Where buying, selling, earning promotion once seemed like a transaction so centralized for brands, in the shopping landscape taking shape before us today, there are far too many pathways to genuinely believe that you can, or will own absolute market share the way you once could, or did.

This isn’t a bad thing. With so many more arteries baked into the heart-of-now’s fashion, there is more room than ever for different designers with different backgrounds and perspectives and purviews and ambitions to rise to the top of their subcultures. Finally.

Get more Fashion ?
  • Anne Dyer

    I haven’t even read it yet and already I’m like, oh hooray – a Leandraaaaa articllllleeee!!

    • me

      Hah, I know/me too !!

      I’m not into clothes shopping right now, but seeing Leandra’s byline was enough for me to do a swan-dive into this post ….

    • Amanda Orlando

      LOL same here! I missed her <3 write about anything I will read it

  • This is a real game changer for shopping and the broader idea of brand identity. It’s exciting to find your tribe and have a much more personal relationship to a brand, not to mention the convenience. I’m super excited by this concept, I’ve been preaching for support of smaller brands for a while now on my blog Thanks for the article, now I’m off to shop on IG!

  • Basil

    Not Instagram (yet!) but I have just bought jewellery over FB –
    A pair of really beautiful earrings. So worth it!

  • Hajni

    I love that this is happening! Can I mention my own brand?

  • Rebecca Coughlan

    This shift in the shopping landscape is so interesting. There is perhaps scope not only for the further democratisation of fashion, but for a slowing down of the fast fashion monster.
    For some fabulous vintage/ secondhand buys, you can also check out !

    • Cameron Smith

      Yes!! I feel like it slow things down too. Seasons are less rigid and there is more of a distinct look to each brand. Less focus on trend and more focus on unique brand identity. So many smaller production stores so more variety. I only wonder what happens when the market becomes saturated

      • Rebecca Coughlan

        I wonder too, because the fact that there are very few barriers to entry means that anyone and everyone can sell on Instagram. I guess though, as in any market, the best will survive!

  • gracesface

    But is there free shipping and free returns!? I just bought 2 bras from 2 different vendors on Amazon. The not-Amazon vendor required me to pay for return postage…$10!!!! to return a bra!! Basically I’m challenging myself to actually NOT shop online because I just need to limit my clothes shopping in general. And buying shoes online has never gone well for me. I need to try before I buy.

    • Cristina

      I always tell myself I’m going to shop online less, butttt… sometimes I can’t find what I want in store here and sometimes I can find it so much cheaper than online. And if I’m buying an investment piece, I really want to find it at the best price!

    • spicyearlgrey

      FUCK amazon its monopolising the market

  • Elise Troister

    Check out @secondcousinv or for amazing and affordable stuff! Highly recommend.

  • Bec Cushway

    Finally someone that understands the thrill of being able to say to someone “oh this? Instagram!”

  • Annie

    I don’t commit to buying very often because I’m such a serial returner, but I do follow a ton of vintage sellers that keep my feed really inspirational. @persephonevint, @_lovesigns_, @_michaela_co, @iamthat_shop all have beautiful feeds, and I’m waiting on a skirt from @smallneeds to arrive any day. They’re largely small, woman/minority-owned businesses, too, which is aces.

    • Sheila T.

      I also follow @courtyard_la, which is vintage but I believe they’re starting to design their own clothes in addition to their vintage stuff. It’s women-owned as well which is great!!

  • Selena Delgado

    I made a huge mistake shopping off of Instagram. I purchased a dress from Realisation, which on IG appeared to be lovely, frilly, and chic. Since it was so popular with models, I figured it couldn’t be a bad thing. I was under the impression that it is advertised as a French brand, or so I perceived it to be. After doing some research, I realized it was a brand from L.A. After forking over $200 and waiting a week, a package arrived from China (red flag #1: sorry if I offend anyone). After the lovely gentleman at DHL handed over the package, I opened it, and to my surprise was a different color, a cheap cut of ruffled silk that didn’t fit as well as I thought it should for the price.

    Disappointed, I gave it away to a friend and bought a similar one from Reformation. The prices were equal, but the Reformation far surpassed the former in fit, cut of fabric and shape.

    • Olivia AP

      Useful info, sis. I’ve been wanting to buy from them

  • Sheila T.

    not clothes (obviously), but I have bought pieces from @helen_levi, who is an amazing ceramicist based in brooklyn and also posts super satisfying instagram stories of trimming and forming pieces at her pottery wheel!

  • Pandora Sykes

    Leandra loves Instagram shopping more than green juice

    • Pandora Sykes

      ps – I’ve worn Mars official in posts for you guys!

  • Beki

    All I have to say is NaNin Vintage stresses me the fuck out – I once became so obsessed as to turn on instagram notifications from them so I could know IMMEDIATELY when they posted an item so I could see it but when I would go check whatever it was would already be sold… it is truly insane. I had to unfollow, it became…unhealthy. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

    • Cameron Smith

      Yeah but I got discouraged from the outset and never even made an effort. I admired their page for a while but eventually unfollowed because they post so often and it took over my feed. I also get this feeling that their items aren’t particularly special or cute. They seem like a lot of button up shirts I could get at the thrift store for $1 (I’m in SF but still) and they just style them heavily by doing bulky ties and the off the shoulder look which makes it hard to see what the shirt actually looks like. Even if they are 100% silk or linen it’s really not hard to come by a nice silk or linen shirt for less than $70

      • nicoweyes

        wow, I’ve been wanting to write the exact. same. Also I wonder how one is actually supposed to wear the off-shoulder look. I think if the shirt isn’t cut to be worn that way, it won’t stay. Or am I doing something wrong? Anyways, I totally agree that those shirts are not worth the price. Also “satin”, which seems to be the fabric of many of them, to me reads as polyester.

        • Cameron Smith

          Yay I’m glad to have the company!! Completely agreed. Unfortunately, I have no tips for the off the shoulder look haha. I’ve never seen it done in real life either and I wonder if the irl off-shoulder button up wearing woman is urban myth or if she exists in more fashionable cities than San Francisco

  • belle

    Alternative perspective: I bristle at this sort of social media consumerism. It feels like everywhere I look someone is trying to get me to buy shit, sometimes very sneakily. I did a big purge and now only follow Instagram users who post photography or personal photos, but Instagram will still shove some sponsored ads in there. Hypothesis: take a break from social media and see how your burning desire to buy things cools off almost immediately. This is how everyone ended up with the “influencer top” and taking the same vitamins and carrying the same handbag and why people are led to believe their personal style and tastes are unique but they are instead subtly and algorithmically sculpted. However, I do appreciate Instagram as an outlet for vintage shops to reach a wider audience than those who might stop by the brick and mortar location.

    • Selena Delgado

      To my surprise, many of the vintage and consignment shops I’ve found on IG are located close to where I live in Brooklyn. Supporting these businesses is certainly more mutually satisfying

      • belle

        Totally! I’ve found some really good ones as well, and definitely feel better supporting a local business.

  • diana

    The difficulty with shopping on insta is finding the shops to begin with. They don’t pop up in my discover feed and I’m not quite sure how to search for them. The algorithm and filtering isn’t quite sophisticated enough, imo, to give very specific results. Being able to only search by one hashtag is really limiting.

    • Cameron Smith

      Once you find one shop you like, click the down arrow button next to the follow button. Then click through the various suggested pages beneath. You’ll find other shops that are similar that are following each other as well as instagrammers who wear those brand and tag other brands they’re wearing in their photos. Only problem with this is sometimes you can get stuck in one asthaetic. If that happens look up brands you already know to change things up and find brands that are following them using the same method.:)

  • Mariana

    Hey, I totally agree. Please check my IG @clubemescla where I sell Portuguese Basket Bags, it’s my little side gig, I do it mostly for fun and to canalize my creative side (I work in finance, so you can guess the level of creativity that I have there lol).

  • LineA00

    I’ve never shopped something on instagram before, but I think I’ll try it. For them who like shopping on the internet generelly, on the following page you can find shops to buy stuff by bills:

  • I sell my designs on Instagram! I think it’s a really unique way to get the feel of face-to-face interaction like you would in a store, but might not be able to because of location. Someone out-of-state can message me, we can chat, see each other’s IG pages, and make a connection. Then I will make a garment to order for them, send it off, and a few days later they might post a photo and tag me in it! Then we get to share that moment, too. It is the whole reason I do this! To see someone happy, dancing around in my design that I made with my hands, just for them. You can’t get this interaction with a web shop. I’m @juliafischerdesign if you want to connect!

  • Lumai