Fashion blogger streetandgentle: 'Go your own way!'

© Philipp Hehmann (streetandgentle)

Zur deutschen Version

Running a personal blog at Instagram and making it commercially successful – this is a dream many people have. But only few people know how much work and dedication is required to achieve it. Philipp, 24, is a student and runs one of the most successful "male fashion" Instagram accounts in Germany: streetandgentle with 196,000 followers.

Philipp knows exactly that it is not enough to simply upload a random photograph. Instead you need to invest a lot of work to get a good reputation at Instagram or on the internet in general. During an interview, he answers interesting questions about his blog:

When did you start your Instagram account and how did you get the idea to do it?

I started my Instagram account around two years ago, but it took awhile – until February 2015 – before I started to post "real" pictures that are worth looking at. What I mean by that is that I went out on the street for the first time and had a photograph of me taken by someone else.

The story behind why I started this at all is quite funny. A friend showed me a picture of a guy who – at least in my friend’s opinion – had a "cool" outfit. I thought I could definitely do better than this. My friend challenged me and said "Then don't just talk about it and do it!" Well, I guess it is fair to say that I won the bet with my friend …

When did you notice that it is not only your friends that followed you on Instagram, but that your account became a source of fashion inspiration for many young men?

I was lucky: Already the second picture somebody else took of me appeared on MenWithStreetstyle . At first I did not understand why so many new followers came to my account. It was a lucky coincidence that Daniel from MenWithStreetstyle who by now is a good friend of mine had reposted my picture on his account. At this point, I was not really aware what a repost or a tag on another page actually meant and what it could lead to.

Through the encouragement of my new followers I noticed that my idea of combining fashionable styles with street settings underlined the effect of my outfits even more. People contacted me through Instagram Direct or they placed their comments below my pictures – and most of them asked: “Where did you get this stuff?” because they also wanted to buy the things I was wearing. At first, it was really strange for me that others wanted to follow my style. But now I truly enjoy this. It is great to inspire others with my outfits.

Where do you get the inspiration for your outfits?

That is difficult! – Inspiration is everywhere. I have not always been interested in fashion, it is a rather new passion for me. At 18, I still ran around looking completely unstylish (laughs). Only with 19 or 20 I started to occasionally flip through a GQ magazine or scan the fashion pages of online shops.

But I also have to say that my style has changed a lot over the years. There was a period in my life, when it had to be the likes of Gucci or Louis Vuitton to really be cool – call it my "chav-times". (laughs). But I'm glad these times are over. Meanwhile, I also combine luxury items with H&M and Zara. I am out to make my style affordable and not to be too blatant. Of course, there is the occasional logo shirt but I try to keep this low scale.

Seems I drifted a bit off the core question. – My inspiration sources: Just to name a few, Mr.Porter, or even styling idols like Scott Disick and David Beckham.

Concisely: Before you go out to get inspiration, you need to have a good basic understanding of colors – which ones actually match – and a basic understanding of which pieces you absolutely need. Then you complement this with inspiration from styling role models, other bloggers or styles from online shops.

Why (do you think) is your account so successful, unlike many others?

The question is not so easy to answer. On the one hand, it simply takes some luck: I have tagged the right pages on my posts and received a report. On the other hand, you need to have something that others do not have. I think my styles offer something for everyone – from expensive items to affordable labels. Everyone can find their niche with me. Of course, the way the pictures are taken is also important – it surely increases brand recognition.

Still, the one formula for success does not exist. For some it works, for others it does not.

Has Instagram changed your life? What positive or negative experiences did you have so far?

I think every person experiences many positive and negative situations in his life. What many people seem to forget is that I am just a normal person with everyday problems. However, this part never appears on Instagram.

What always moves me and makes me happy are the messages of people that I don't know and who tell me how much I have motivated and inspired them or even made their life better. I still find this unbelievable and I do not want to miss it any more, to be honest.

You want to find out how much work successful blogging requires and what recommendations Philipp from streetandgentle has for you? Then continue reading part 2 of this interview.

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