Reese Blutstein was an accidental fashion industry sensation, or so it seems if you ask her. “When I started [an Instagram] 4 years ago it wasn't really a thing. I followed a few people who were posting outfits on Instagram, but I had no idea it could be job. I just did it for fun and I didn’t actually think anyone would see it except for maybe my family and friends.”
Today, Reese is just shy of having 200,000 followers, and she’s fielding regular collaboration offers from Teen Vogue, Gucci, and Paco Rabanne; to her fans around the world, her meteoric rise in cachet seems anything but incidental.
Like so many others, Reese has gained a profile in the fashion industry by sharing her innovatively styled daily outfits on Instagram and her blog, double3xposure.com. But that’s where the comparisons to most social media influencers end, as the 22 year old Atlanta-based creative has built a reputation of having a truly unique sense of style – she’s never felt the need to compromise who she is in order to blend with the fashion influencer crowd. It is this sense of individuality that feels like a breath of fresh air and, perhaps, an antidote to fashion’s augmenting concern with hype, and following the zeitgeist rather than shaping it.
“To be honest, I don’t like the word influencer,” she admits over e-mail. “It seems too extreme for what I do. I’m not trying to influence people to be a certain way or dress a certain way. I think a better word is inspiring someone. I look at Instagram and Tumblr for inspiration and obviously you aren’t going to have all the same pieces as someone else, but you can be like, ‘Okay I have a similar shirt that I can style with white trousers’ and you just break it down like that.” She insists that she doesn’t think that social media should have too much influence over us – “it is a world that is made up to look more perfect than it may actually be.”
Reese is candid about her view on fashion, and how that might differ from conventional trends. “I don’t follow people to see the same things. I follow people because I love individual style,” she explains. Even once brands started to notice her account and her following grew increasingly larger, she chose not to stray from her original principles. “I just tried to keep doing what I had been doing all along. I didn’t want to change just because I was sometimes getting paid for it.”
Her thrifted outfits and one-of-a-kind vintage pieces also make her a magnet for fashion fans on a budget. Even though Reese has worked with an impressive arsenal of designers and made her rounds on the Fashion Week circuit, her high-low, DIY-style makes it clear that fashion and consumerism are not as linked as we might be led to think in our other interactions with fashion influencers (think: YouTube hauling sprees and sponsored posts cropping up everywhere). “I constantly try to show people that I don’t always have new clothes. It is more fun to take the clothes you do have and create different outfits with them as opposed to always using new pieces,” Reese says. (At a point where fast fashion is literally destroying the planet, and students like us have mad bills to pay, this is music to our ears.)
Reese’s approach is distinctly against the grain, but that is exactly how she’s found a niche.
“I see no point in wearing what you think people want you to wear, versus wearing what you actually like. I mean, I have no idea how I would stay true to myself and have a clear vision of what I want to say if I always chose to dress for others.” Reese began her Instagram account at 18; as she has gotten older, she has become more confident. “Blending in isn't something that I want. I want style that is different and if people think it’s weird, maybe I'm doing something right,” she laughs.
Reese’s reminder that the best style is personal style is particularly encouraging. Positing social media as a force for self-expression versus self-comparison switches the all-too-common narrative that Instagram creates poor self-esteem and doesn’t allow for individual agency. Reese is one of many creative voices that have instead harnessed the digital platform for a very different, decidedly more inclusive and positive purpose instead.
In addition to having made most of her closest friends through social media, she has also proved to herself that – as the saying goes – dreams work if you do.
“I want to do my best so that I can always, with 100% certainty, be proud of the work I put out and never ashamed of anything I’ve created. I think this mindset makes me work harder, because I don’t ever want to let others down, but I also never want to let myself down.”
She tells us that turning her hobby into a career is a privilege that she doesn’t underestimate, and it is also the achievement that she is the most proud of.
“I have proved to myself that I can do something that I love if I work hard at it,” she says, and that along the way, working hard at her career has come with a lot of self-actualizing lessons as well. “Being yourself, no matter what, is the most important thing you can do. Don’t filter yourself based on what you think people want you to be. At the end of the day, it truly only matters if you are happy with who you are.”
Reese carries this philosophy with her in fashion, work, social media, and life – and that’s what we call inspiration.
Special thanks to Reese Blutstein for her time and insights - keep up with Reese on Instagram @double3xposure.