What does it take these days to become one of the most sought-after people reporting from fashion’s front row? Beka Gvishiani, the man behind the hit Instagram account Style Not Com, will tell you, in the same straightforward language that defines Style Not Com, nostalgically named for Style.com, the groundbreaking Condé Nast site that brought runway fashion to the internet in 2000. (Style.com shut down and morphed into Vogue Runway in 2015.)
“The day Style.com closed, I thought, ‘OK, there is no more Style.com. Sorry, Style not Com,’” Mr. Gvishiani said, explaining on a Zoom call from his new apartment in Paris how he came up with the name of his account. His feed, on which he posts bits of news, fashion trivia and his version of event coverage, is a sea of Yves Klein blue squares with white all-cap text, like a fashion “Jeopardy!” Infectiously enthusiastic, it has become an important newswire and bulletin for the fashion world.
Two weeks ago Mr. Gvishiani was at men’s fashion week in Paris, where he seemed to be at every show. Sample dispatches read:
“It’s Very, Very, Very Hot Inside Dior Show Venue.”
“So, Pharrell Owned and Literally Shut Down Paris Tonight.”
“I think we have to change the word ‘Love’ with ‘Loewe.’ I Loewe You.”
What Mr. Gvishiani lacks in depth, he makes up for in good vibes. Sometimes he wishes designers and other industry veterans a happy birthday. Sometimes he calls out a P.R. firm or production team for doing a good job. The brands, which have an increasingly iron grip on the media, love the lack of criticism. (Or do they Loewe it?)
Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
Less than two years ago, Mr. Gvishiani, now 32, was a fashion obsessive who arrived at Paris Fashion Week from his home in Tbilisi, Georgia, with little more than a font and a dream.
It was September 2021, when fashion, like the rest of world, was still in a coronavirus fugue state. Mr. Gvishiani had only a few hundred followers, but a couple of influential ones, like the fashion documentarian Loïc Prigent, who started following Style Not Com after he was featured in a post.
Mr. Gvishiani wasn’t invited to any fashion shows then, but he covered the Balenciaga show — formatted like a red carpet before a screening of a special Balenciaga-themed episode of “The Simpsons” — as if he were there.
“Lots of people started to share this post, even the Balenciaga P.R. team,” Mr. Gvishiani said. Posting that the Chanel show will start in five minutes or that only one model wore sunglasses was, as Mr. Gvishiani said, “stuff that no one talks about and is at some point kind of stupid.” Unless you’re the person who’s responsible for putting sunglasses on the model or making sure the show starts on time.
“They are behind the scenes, but they are very important people to create those fashion shows,” said Mr. Gvishiani, who used to be one of those people, back in Tbilisi.
When Lucien Pages, who runs a namesake P.R. firm, saw a fawning post by Mr. Gvishiani in September 2021 — he called it “the P.R. Agency of All Fashion Brands Dreams” — he had mixed emotions. Mr. Pages’s firm represents clients like JW Anderson, Coperni and Courrèges and handles events and fashion shows for houses like Saint Laurent and Loewe.
“It could have been a fake account or someone that is laughing about people from fashion,” Mr. Pages said. “I was a bit like: ‘What is that? Is it good? Is it bad? Is it cynical?’ But he attracted my attention, so it was kind of smart.”
By January 2022, Style Not Com had accrued about 10,000 followers. Bottega Veneta sought Mr. Gvishiani out. Clara Cornet, Instagram’s head of fashion and beauty partnerships for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, set up a meeting. Her job is to identity Instagram accounts with potential and make sure they’re maximizing engagement on the platform.
Mr. Gvishiani sent Ms. Cornet his wish list of shows he would like to attend during Paris Fashion Week. “I literally sent the full Paris fashion calendar,” he said. “She started sending emails to all these big fashion P.R.s.” The invitations followed. Including from Mr. Pages, who was charmed by Mr. Gvishiani’s positivity and unapologetic fandom.
“We put him front row, and Loïc Prigent came to me and said: ‘Wow, you put Style Not Com front row. That’s brave.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’”
A Lot of Logic and a Little Luck
Mr. Gvishiani is no rube. His trip to Paris in fall 2021 was an inflection point, and in the course of our three-and-a-half-hour interview he spared no detail about how he got from Point A — a kid in Georgia blogging on the Fashion Spot, an online forum for fashion fans — to Point B, on a chartered boat to see Pharrell Williams’s fashion debut at Louis Vuitton.
“I’m the first generation of post-Soviet kids,” Mr. Gvishiani said. “I lived this period when we were getting teasers of the outside world.” A childhood obsession with graphics, logos and branding from Western entities — Fanta, Coca-Cola, newspapers, tabloids — led to his holy grail: glossy magazines, specifically Vogue Russia, available at only a few newsstands in his town.
“The ladies selling it used to keep me one copy,” he said. On his Tumblr account, Glossy Newsstand, he curated covers and fashion features from as many international magazines as he could find on the internet. He searched management sites like Streeters and Art Partner to figure out who worked on the shoots — hair and makeup artists, stylists, photographers, models — tweeting and tagging them. Some followed back.
In 2013, Mr. Gvishiani requested accreditation for Tbilisi Fashion Week. “They thought I was some important fashion blogger,” he said. Eventually a Georgian designer named Anouki Areshidze hired him to run social media for her Anouki label. Soon he was ordering fabric, packing boxes, producing look-book shoots, opening her first store in Tbilisi.
When Ms. Areshidze participated in a showroom for Georgian designers in Paris, she sent Mr. Gvishiani. Harvey Nichols Hong Kong placed an order. Anouki was invited to a designer showcase organized by Vogue and Yoox in Milan.
“Since the brand name was starting with A, we were usually the first one in the room, first one in the list,” Mr. Gvishiani said. “Sometimes it’s a lucky moment.” Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani, the famed Vogue Italia editor, stopped at Anouki first. Mr. Gvishiani took a photo with them and posted it to Instagram.
In one season, he said, 10 more stores picked up Anouki to sell.
After five years with Anouki, Mr. Gvishiani opened a creative agency named Arial Bold after the basic computer font. “Our idea was to take the very basic and general ideas but make them bold and recognizable in a different way,” he said. He produced ad campaigns and fashion shows for Georgian designers as well as a Giambattista Valli x H&M event in Tbilisi.
Spring 2021 was the peak of the pandemic in Georgia. Everything was on hold. Mr. Gvishiani had just turned 30. He started Style Not Com. He bought a ticket to Paris.
Mr. Gvishiani does not consider himself a journalist or a critic, though he is highly reverential of those who are. Meeting Tim Blanks and Nicole Phelps, two veteran fashion journalists and critics, who were the faces of Style.com in its heyday, were fashion dreams come true.
What do Mr. Blanks, who now works for The Business of Fashion, and Ms. Phelps, who is the global director of Vogue Runway, think of Style Not Com?
“What he does is very different from what we did at Style.com and what we do at Vogue Runway,” Ms. Phelps said. “Those short little headlines, the white Style.com font against the royal blue. They work even better than pictures. You can read it in a flash of a second, half of a second, and you’re just scrolling.”
Mr. Blanks said: “He’s a keeper of the flame, In his slightly pell-mell coverage of the whole fandango, he is pointing out, I think, this ludicrousness of it. He’s also sort of the ultimate testament to the power of the fashion dream, this transformative thing that happens to people when they get into the fashion industry. It’s this funny Lana Turner-in-the-soda-shop-aspect of this world, that they can become stars kind of overnight.”
An Influencer, With a Loophole
Mr. Gvishiani does not use Style Not Com to post products or photos of himself at events, which is how most of his peers cash in. Occasionally he posts runway videos or a clip from an event he attends. He wears his own clothes, usually suits with Birkenstocks and a blue Style Not Com baseball cap.
“When brands pay for my travel and for the hotel and I get invited to the show, I already feel good,” Mr. Gvishiani said. In June, when Saint Laurent staged its men’s spring 2024 runway show in Berlin, Style Not Com posted “Saint Laurent in Berlin” against a black square instead of its signature blue and shared the time and location of the event in the caption. Mr. Gvishiani said the brand did not pay him for the post.
The honor of being invited to a fashion show does not pay the rent, however, and things have quickly become transactional. Many posts are negotiated — the specific subject, whether it’s a show, a campaign, an event, if a video is included. Then a rate is determined.
Last year, Mr. Gvishiani introduced a Style Not Com book conceived as a year-in-review, in which every page is a full-bleed blue square chronicling some fashion happening. The book sells pages like advertising, but which posts and pages are ads remains undisclosed thanks to a loophole.
“My account is connected with Georgia, where I’m not obliged to mention the sponsored content for the brands,” Mr. Gvishiani said, declining to name his paying clients. “This is a reason the brands like to work with me.”
With 227,000 followers, Mr. Gvishiani does not have the biggest audience, but it is packed with industry heavy hitters. “You’re relevant in real life rather than with your number of followers,” Ms. Cornet said. “Does it mean being invited to shows? He is. Does it mean being close to certain creative directors and being able to get them directly over DM answering questions after the show? He is.”
Mr. Gvishiani is keenly aware that his invitation to the fashion party is conditional. He is not interested in criticism or analysis.
“My account became known because of its positivity, because of its humor, bit of sarcasm, bit of irony,” he said, noting that he uses these elements in every post.
“When people get drunk, when they get super-personal, when they start to speak only bad things about people, these are the stories that I’ll never share,” he said. “Yesterday someone told me that I’m more valued for the stories that I don’t share.”