WWD Digital Forum: Christian Louboutin’s Social Media Secrets

Instagrams of New York Fashion Week
@louboutinworld, Sept. 12: "In a pastel paradise with patent Rivierina backstage @cushnieetochs. #nyfw 📷: @taylorjewell"
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Christian Louboutin already dominates the high-end footwear world, and now the luxe label has an impressive 5.3 million followers on Instagram, making it a social media leader, too. In the month of August alone, it was the third-fastest-growing footwear brand on Instagram behind athletic powerhouses Nike and Adidas. What’s the secret to Louboutin’s success?

Anne Muhlethaler, SVP of global communications, group companies at Christian Louboutin, was on stage at the WWD Digital Forum in New York today to give attendees insight into the company’s unique strategy.

“We try to be authentic, and we always go with instinct over analytics,” said Muhlethaler, who noted that the brand has spent “almost nothing” on advertising. “In the beginning, we couldn’t afford advertising, so we always had to think of ways to do things that were fun and free.”

That non-corporate approach is still in force today. Take a glimpse at @Louboutinworld on Instagram and you’ll see a collection of engaging, whimsical images. While shoes are the star of many of these photos, the brand also spotlights its new nail lacquer and lipstick lines. And occasionally, you’ll even see Monsieur Louboutin himself dancing, singing or posing in dramatic fashion.

Muhlethaler said that when Louboutin World hit 5 million followers earlier this year, she knew it was a milestone that had to be celebrated. So she called her boss — who was due to leave for vacation in Cuba the next day — and he sprung into action. Hours later, he was photographed dancing through the streets of Paris while counting the number of his followers. The post was another insta-hit, judging from its nearly 48,000 likes.

The label also focuses on creating buzz about current styles versus those that are being shown to the press a season ahead — and that’s by design, Muhlethaler said. (Footwear News knows firsthand that taking photos at press previews isn’t allowed.)

“What’s being shared is this season, not the next one,” she said. “We think you can share on social media too early. We feature current-season [product] in a way that few brands do.”

While Instagram is fashion’s “golden child,” according to Muhlethaler, she told the audience not to ignore Twitter, another powerful platform. For example, when the documentary “Christian Louboutin: The World’s Most Luxurious Shoes” aired in London this summer, it was the No. 1-trending topic on Twitter that evening, she noted.