He’s expected to be the breakout star of London fashion week – sitting between the movers and shakers and the glossy brown bobs, always wearing the same bright blue baseball cap with the words Style Not Com stitched on the front.
But this man has no established association with any of fashion’s big names and despite having over 250,000 Instagram followers, Beka Gvishiani, the 32-year-old Georgian behind hit fashion account Style Not Com, still struggles to describe precisely why he’s here.
“The fashion brands don’t know where to sit me because they don’t know what I am – am I influencer? No. Digital? Am I press, or maybe reporter? Maybe, but I only write one-line show reviews,” he says.
That’s why he came up with the cap – so people recognise him. “I wasn’t anybody, so I got this stitched on,” he says. “Now, though, people say I’m an insider for outsiders.”
Gvishiani has become an overnight Instagram sensation for his short and pithy takes on the fashion industry, written in low-key Arial Bold font and posted on squares in “a bright shade of Colette [the influential Paris fashion shop] blue”. In occasionally fawning but often just simple bulletins, his aim is to “find the news line that people don’t talk about – how at a show like Dior, it might be amazing, but no one thought about the air conditioning and so we’re all sat here, dying of heat,” he says. “Or how everyone is hungry.”
To the fashion world though, he’s also one of a growing arm of critics who have gained access to one of the most closely guarded cultural industries, simply by dint of being either knowledgable or a fan. Others include the prolific menswear Tweeter Derek Guy and the style history YouTuber Fashion Roadman. Often on social media – but rarely showing their faces – they have replaced bloggers and influencers as the new industry obsessives who have blagged a seat at the table.
Unlike most of these types, Gvishiani does not post products, or photos of himself. Despite attempts at “gifting”, he always wears his own clothes to shows.
Gvishiani was born two weeks after the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the “first generation of post-Soviet kids”. A fashion obsessive who spent his pocket money on copies of Vogue, he was studying business management in Tbilisi in the late 2000s when he first talked his way into shows. “I would email the PR to say I was a blogger, but because I would write in English, they sometimes let me in.”
He then befriended the fashion designer Anouki, and began working for her. In turn, she smuggled him into fashion shows by making him pose as her husband, where he took notes. “We didn’t have ID so I would just hold up his bank card.”
Moving between jobs, including set design, bag ordering and branding, it wasn’t until the pandemic that he started to turn his notes into something more. “We couldn’t travel so I was watching all the shows on Style.com [Vogue’s catwalk archive] and just posting things. I didn’t have photos, so I just wrote things like a diary,” he says. His account name is a homage to the now-closed site.
The front row of any fashion show – who has been placed where, and why – is a political hotbed. But there is a growing backlash about the way these events are sometimes covered. Of Gvishiani’s account, one senior editor at iD magazine said: “There is so much waffle in fashion criticism, and so much of the reality is hushed up on social media. Sometimes you just want to know what happened in 10 words, or even better, the thing you can only see if you’re there – the reality. That’s what he does.”
While some journalists tend to focus on straightforward reporting, this generation of social media stars is more likely to start a conversation, sometimes critical, which has the power to spread virally on a medium that it controls. For this reason, fashion is discovering its power. That’s why Gvishiani has found himself seated next to Julia Fox or Shakira, and why this season, he has been given full access to the shows by the British Fashion Council – as well as a window in Selfridges broadcasting his every post.
“The industry is notorious, and … I also know it’s absurd,” Gvishiani says. “But it’s also the absurd that I enjoy.”
As for the cap: “I think people know who I am – but the men in my family, we go bald early, it’s a Georgian thing. So I’ll always wear one.”