Trolling with My Homies

Since launching NSFW, I've been the subject of a lot of debate on a number of open-love and poly groups.

I've been called elitist for how we manage membership, was told I was promoting rape culture by allowing women to pay less for access and was called "gross" cause we seek influential, attractive members.

I was scolded for saying we promote an inclusive vibe within our community because we're selective on who gets into that community. And that even after spending over a decade promoting diversity and female empowerment within the fashion industry that I'm somehow anti-feminist and racist. My personal favorite is that NSFW is not "progressive or radical" because we charge for events. It's been a very trying hassle, but one which has taught me a lot about how little it takes to get people pissed off, including myself. 

My responses have varied from calm and collected, to sarcastic and outright infuriated.

It's frustrating that those claiming to be "sex-positive" feel it's okay to shame me for my approach to sex. And it's especially difficult trying to have discussions with people who claim to be "open-minded" but who only accept their way of thinking as the only way to think. 

While not all of these are trolls, and some are genuinely concerned, it feels like no amount of reasoning or explanation is enough. That no matter what our reasoning is NSFW is labeled "a bad place" because we disagree with certain ideas the community tries to dictate as law. 

In literally a matter of minutes of posting a question about changing our pay-structure for events on an open-love Facebook group I was called racist, sexist, classist, a liar, non-inclusive, misogynist, in genuine, patriarchal, and my personal favorite "gross" cause I've chosen to offer reduced rates for women... a decision we made at the suggestion of female members of NSFW.

The discourse engrossed me.  I felt a bit betrayed by a community that I truly felt I was in like mind with and realized just how ugly people can get when you disagree with them. The conversation spiraled into everything that's wrong with NSFW and our way of thinking and I spent most of my day trying to defend our mission to people who've never been to any of our events, haven't spoken to any of our members and who don't seem to know the definitions of the words they use as insults.

244 comments laters, soul-crimped and drained from having to be on the defensive for most of my day, I decided to just stop engaging, delete my question, leave the group and figure out a different way to explain the vision for NSFW.

So, I'm writing this article for two reasons.

One, because it takes way too much time to combat those who look to fan the flames on forums and I needed a link to send them when they start questioning our motives.

And two, cause it's very clear that most people out there don't understand what NSFW is looking to accomplish.

You can disagree. You can call bullshit and refuse to believe. Or, you can get off that self righteous high horse of yours and just accept that regardless of what you think, there are actually other ways of thinking in the world you might want to consider.

Honestly, not trying to change anyone's mind at this point, as most of the people who are against me will remain against me regardless of reasoning, but I do want this out there so that there's at least one place where the mission of NSFW isn't torn to shit by trolls and haters.


"NSFW is misogynistic."

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls and can be manifested in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.


None of that relates to NSFW.


We don't exclude women but instead are a community seeking to support them, not only through education which promotes enthusiastic consent and empowerment through sexual wellness, but also through our charitable efforts. We donate to Planned Parenthood and causes for women's health and protecting a woman's right to choose. Our staff is majority female, including our instructors and in-house support. We don't condone violence towards women and have strict policies in place to prevent consent violations. We aren't here to objectify women, but celebrate the female form and respect a woman's right to embrace her sexuality.

While I've learned early to not call myself a feminist, as it encourages those who feel the title only belongs to women to question my every motive and more aggressively point out my flaws, fighting for female equality and women's issues has always been a highlight of my career.

During my work at Socialyte and NYLON we showcased women of all skin tones, religious creeds and body types. I fought to change fashion's obsession with traditionally white, young beauty aesthetics by representing women who were diverse and showcased attainable levels of real beauty. In addition, 90% of our staff was female including my past business partner. 

While I'm sure I've made mistakes in the past, I've tried my best not to be misogynistic, not to ignore the issues facing women, and to not use my position or influence to negatively impact womanhood.

Now, you're free to disagree and think NSFW is anti-feminism, but before you do, let me ask you this, how many women's lives have you changed for the better through your actions? I have a couple million who've been impacted positively by seeing women of their body type and race in the pages of Vogue, leading the charge in changing what American publications consider "beauty". A couple dozen more I've guided in mentorship or as entrepreneurs, many now running their own media brands and becoming millionaires in the process.

Through NSFW I've helped educate men on practices which prevent the prevalence of rape culture, as well as been praised by our female members for creating a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive space in which they can explore their desires and learn more about their sexual wellness. 

So I guess my question to haters would be this, how many women have you helped that you feel you're in a position to judge our work?

"NSFW is elitist."

When I was first interviewed on NSFW I used the word "affluent" to describe some of our members. This triggered a wave of people calling our club elitist and claiming we were catering to rich, white old men who pay exuberant fees to have a place to engage with younger females. 

Maxim called us "New York's Most Elite, Private Sex Party" in a story and some feel that because a media publication considered our club as the most elite amongst the play scene, we somehow think we're better than everybody else.

We don't.

We're just different.

NSFW is highly selective on who we share our clubhouse with, we provide an luxurious, but not pretentious setting for fellow adventurers, and we push education as the cornerstone of our mission attracting renowned educators and artists who provide an elevated experience for our members.

What makes something "elite" is subjective, especially when it comes to sex.

Elite is defined as being superior in terms of ability or qualities. Other play parties have qualities that are far superior to NSFW in my opinion. Elite isn't a term that only means money. 

How much a person makes isn't a make or break factor in NSFW membership. (Do you think we're asking people for bank statements?). Because of this, I've been using the more applicable term "influential" in our messaging.

Our membership is mainly made up of attractive, successful millennials and people we'd consider influential. We do this for a few reasons, but the main one is because what we teach at NSFW is important for all to be aware of.

Influential people get the attention of others and influencing the influencers is the easiest way to push a positive message across. Over the past decade I've worked with and developed campaigns around influencers and celebrities and know first hand just how impactful they can be to their fans and followers. 

I've built companies through influencers, created "it" products which would sell out in minutes and pioneered a new form of marketing focused on peer-to-peer storytelling which is still the most effective way to reach ad-averse millennials. 

For me, catering to influential people is an obvious way to spread our mission. One person called it "trickle down sex positivity" on a forum. I just like to call it good marketing sense.  

I believe that what we are doing at NSFW is game changing. We believe teaching people how to make love (not porn) is absolutely important to bettering the sex lives of others. We believe that enthusiastic consent must be taught and practiced by more. We believe that educating people on safer drug practices is important in preventing others from overdosing or becoming junkies. We believe that through a more adventurous lifestyle people will live happier lives, focused less on material possessions and more on the experiences they engage in. And we believe sexuality can be fluid, should be explorative and that through education we can help more people open up their ideas on sex and how they view the LGBTQ and open-love community.

I believe firmly, that by making NSFW available first to a selective group of influential people, that these principals and ideals can spread faster to more people.  We do this by promoting an inclusive mentality at NSFW, a major reason why we're careful on who we let in.


"NSFW is racist."

NSFW accepts all types of nationalities, races and religious creeds. We don't discriminate and in the same way I was an avid supporter for changing the ideals of beauty in fashion publications, our membership is an proud example that sexy doesn't have a shade.

Our members include troublemakers of all ethnicities. We do still choose members based on attraction and influence, but the spectrum of beauty is wide in my eyes and that of our council. Amongst our members there Muslims, Christians and Jews. Nearly every skin tone is represented (still awaiting an albino applicant). As our community grows, we'll continue to accept members of all races to ensure our values can be preached to all. 

I feel people thinking we're racist and only focused on white beauty aesthetics goes back to the incorrect "affluent/elitist" standard people think we've set. Which to me is a little bit racist, no? It's almost like the person saying we're racist because of this is a little bit racist himself cause he thinks only white people can be affluent?

I myself am hispanic so understand my concern when trolls claim that I think I'm "always right" in my thinking due to "white privilege". This one is probably the most concerning comment I've received on myself and NSFW, cause it completely ignores fact.

You don't know who our members are, you don't know of my history in promoting diversity or my won civil rights lawsuit against a venue that discriminated against black and hispanic models, but you're pretty confident to defame me by saying I'm a white dude who only wants white people at my parties. Good job.  


"NSFW is unsafe for women." 

Over the past two years, we've successfully hosted over 85 playful and play-friendly events for members of NSFW welcoming over 400 members and their guests through our Clubhouse.

Members are required to agree to our Code of Conduct and we provide an anonymous way to report any inappropriate behavior. 

For larger play events we provide guardians who walk the event ensuring all guests are safe and enjoying our space responsibly. We provide free workshops on Enthusiastic Consent, ask members to sign a consent agreement before entering PlayDate, allow members to identify themselves as being okay with Implied Consent at events, ensure no doors are lockable at the NSFW Clubhouse, and have a light-play floor to ensure the comfort of all guests in attendance.

Participation is never required. Guests can dress to their own level of comfort. There's never a strike at midnight where all women must get into lingerie.

If inappropriate behavior is reported, we take immediate action to remedy the situation based on what occurred. Penalization includes warnings and reprimand, requiring these individuals to take our workshop on consent, temporarily suspending membership, revoking membership indefinitely, and/or reporting the incident in the event a crime was committed.

Since it's our mission to introduce NSFW to more people, eventually becoming a global movement dedicated to sexual enlightenment, it's extremely important that we consistently create an environment where female guests feel safe. In play settings, it's very easy for mistakes to occur which is why we're so committed to preventing them from happening in the first place. 

Recently, we introduced special rates for women. This was done to allow more women to experience NSFW and our community. While I firmly believe in equality, I am not blind to the wage gap and the excessive costs associated with products sold to women.

Sexual wellness shouldn't be a luxury for women and because of this we provide a lower entry fee for our female members. Not only does this allow more women to learn from our workshops, but it also allows many to not rely on dates to cover the cost of entry, ensuring an experience that is free from reliance on men to cover things.

In addition, the request to reduce the price for women came from our female members, which we often ask for advice on making things better at NSFW. 

While men at other play events may feel a few dollars is enough to earn a sense of entitlement over women, at NSFW we haven't experienced this yet. I'm truly hopeful that because we've been so selective on our membership this won't be an issue that we will have to face.

If things change in the future, or the atmosphere we've successfully cultivated over the past years changes, I'm confident that NSFW's female membership and council will be first to tell us.


Why don't you have special rates for everyone?

One of the strangest arguments I've seen is that if we give special rates to women then we should give discounts to all people who are disenfranchised.

One particularly snide commenter asked me why we don't give special discounts to single mothers or transexuals if I care about the marginalized so much. Another asked that if I'm such a supporter of those with less money why don't I let people choose how much to pay for events. I've never understood these argument.

Firstly, we're a start-up with a mission and in order to fuel that mission we need money, as much as I'd love to let members pay what they can to join and attend our events, this model doesn't work when you're trying to create a business or seeking funding. I have considered a non-profit model, or potentially exploring religious classification, but in all honesty, I don't see us raising lots of money to ensure people have better sex lives and religions are a bitch to run.

Secondly, when someone tries doing something good for one group why not praise that good act rather than say it's not enough? I don't think this way of thinking is constructive and I can normally shut these people down by asking what exactly are they doing that benefits everybody?

What major acts can they point to that didn't directly impact them, someone in their friend of family circle, or a specific cause they believed in? Do they truly rally for everything, raise for every charity and show in their actions that they are looking do things for everyone?


Instead, they waste their time pointing out the faults in other people's desire to do good. Trying to shame us for not caring enough, for not doing enough. Wasting energy on spreading hate under the guise of being "Social Justice Warriors". Trying to make others feel bad about doing something that makes others feel good.


Simply put, NSFW is looking to show support for women first.


A number of ways have been touched on above including our focus on sexual wellness and drug education, as well as our special rates for women, but we also have our Get Naughty, Give Back, which is our commitment to giving 6.9% of all profits to Planned Parenthood and other causes which promote women's health and a woman's right to choose. In addition, we host events where 100% of our proceeds are donated to women-focused causes.

So I really must ask, why is NFSW required to support all causes? Is our commitment to women's health not enough? And what outcome would you prefer? That we do nothing or only adhere to what you believe is the right way to support a cause?


NSFW isn't LGBTQ friendly.

We choose members based on attraction and influence which means our membership is made up of various sexual orientations and identifications. 

We provide a number of options for members to choose from when creating their profiles including all types of sexual classifications and interests and recently removed the requirement for choosing gender. 

In the same way we don't discriminate based off of religious affiliation, race or gender, we don't discriminate against any LGBTQ applicants.

I am a member of the LGBTQ community. I'm a cis bisexual male, a classification which many would say has limited representation in media and which endures it's own share of discrimination. Discriminating against other classes within my community would be senseless. Don't think for a second I don't want to do something truly impactful for the community I love and win a GLAAD award or make it on the OUT 100 someday. Total. Fucking. Dream. 

As NSFW grows and our membership increases, I'm confident we'll have more opportunities to produce events that cater to specific groups, bringing our special dose of sexy to more people.

Until then, we'll continue to allow our membership to help us gauge the types of adventures we create, which have always been inclusive of all types of orientations.


NSFW isn't inclusive.

This one is true. We aren't inclusive. We are extremely selective on who we invite to join NSFW and therefore aren't a club for everyone. 

Within NSFW, we do promote an warm atmosphere. We ask all members to think of each other as friends or partners in crime who share a similar thinking about sex and open love.

Hugs are encouraged. 

That sense of being around friends and family is felt within our community and while we're selective on who's invited to share our space with us, we still promote a judgement-free zone for our members to enjoy. 



NSFW isn't radical. 

Main reason I hear this one is cause people think we only cater to rich people.

They often include an image which reads "If it isn't accessible to the poor it's neither radical or revolutionary."

Our membership is only $69 a month. Too much?

For those who can't afford that we offer a supporter membership which gives you free access in exchange for 3-hours of support at one of our events. So if you're not of means and meet our other considerations for membership, then please step right up and apply.


I would NEVER join NSFW. Gross. 

Well, we didn't invite you, you didn't apply and with an attitude like that we probably wouldn't accept you anyway.

We reserve the right to be selective. 

So, basically....


Hope that answers most of the concerns I've heard on the forums.

Always willing to hear other opinions and advice, I only ask that in the same way you expect me to respect your right to choose how you want to engage in sexual activities, we hope you're capable of respecting ours as well.

Always conspiring, 

Chief Conspirator



How Trump Inspired Me to Quit Fashion and Create "New York City's Most Elite Private Sex Club"



Okay, so the title is total click-bait, but come on, would you expect any better from me?

There's been a lot of talk about NSFW since we opened the doors of our clubhouse back in 2016. Within a few months of launching my little private club for the adventurous, Urban Daddy called us "The City’s Best Current Opportunity for Sexual Enlightenment", Maxim praised us as "New York City's Most Elite Private Sex Club", and News Australia said we were "Ridding the “Sex Club” of its Unsavory Stigma.".

Pretty major attention considering this was all initially conceived as a Burning Man camp.

"I Want to See The Burning Man!!!"

Welcome Home

Three years ago I made my first pilgrimage to Black Rock City. It came about in a time in my life when I was finally ready to come out as bisexual, an orientation I always knew was there but never fully acknowledged.  To say that Burning Man changed my life is an understatement. The people I met there, the sexual enlightenment they enjoyed and the judgement love I received was a welcome reminder that even though there were people in my past life who didn't support my decision to come out and pushed me to stay closeted or quiet, there were people out there who did support me and who loved me regardless of the genitalia I prefer.

It was an important time in my life in which I came out to my hyper-christian parents and Catholic family and publicly on my profiles. I lived in a constant state of stress and fear during that time as everyday brought on some new onslaught of teary-eyed, "how can this be happening to me!!" conversations and people telling me I was just trying to gradually go gay, as if years of appearing hetro to them were just a farce. It sucked for so many reasons. 

Sex camps run abundant at Burning Man and education is a major component. I was able to take workshops on sexuality allowing me to openly discussing my bisexuality to those with open hearts and open ears, witness demonstrations on kink and bondage and saw what really goes down in the Orgy Dome. I was at a place where my latent sexuality was praised and revered, a place where I felt more like me than anywhere else, a place where I found acceptance in a fact I tried so hard to suppress and ignore, a place where I finally felt free. I was home.

Soon after my first Burn, I separated from my wife and began focusing my attention on NSFW, a private club I created to emulate the free love philosophies and principals I learned on the Playa.

Sin is In.

NSFW (Beta)

Through 2015 I workshopped events for NSFW with close friends, mixing a private house party atmosphere with education focused around sexual wellness, drug culture and mischievous acts. Events included lessons on exploring kink, discussions on fluid sexuality, polyamory and enthusiastic consent, physician-led classes on responsible drug use designed to counter-act the failed attempts of D.A.R.E. (our class is also called D.A.R.E., but stands for Drugs Are Responsibly Entertaining), a Vogue photographer run class on sexy selfies, a class on How to Cheat at Poker, a weekly movie night called Netflix & Chill, and group outings to The Museum of Sex and Company XIV's raunchy burlesque-rendition of Snow White. With a start-up mentality, I treated these events as beta tests and after each I'd ask a few questions on how to make the experiences better, adjusting future ones to better fit the desires of my user base. 

In 2016, I quietly launched NSFW and opened up membership. After dealing with a ban on Facebook (they thought we were porn), I created a secret FB group and a private social network for members to meet, began promoting weekly events run out of my Bowery loft (it was formerly Terry Richardson's studio so it felt appropriate to host naughty adventures there) and laid down a Code of Conduct to ensure everyone could enjoy the safe, judgement-free environment I discovered at the bottom of that lake bed in Nevada.

Membership surged as people shared experiences with friends. I began getting emails from couples praising our programming and I was feeling pretty confident that my weekend hustle had the potential to become something big.

Then came PlayDate.


Let's Have a PlayDate

Over the past 16 years I've been exploring the play scene. Sex parties, clubs and events focused on group play are common in NYC and across this great country with spots for sinful engagements in nearly every major city. Now keep in mind, the fact that I've been to these things doesn't necessarily mean I like them. I don't, at least not often. I find many to be filled with less than savory individuals, set up in locations I don't think are very sexy (one went down at a karate studio), or which feel predatory, designed for older men with money to spend. There was no curation of guest, no education and many times no safety precautions to protect women or young men, me included.

I felt I could do better.


I announced NSFW PlayDate and quickly realized that even with all my learnings and experiences in the scene, I definitely missed some things.

The sex community of New York is massive but within it is a small sub-group of Burners producing play events. When announced, some within this group of sex-positive promoters quickly vocalized their opposition of PlayDate pointing out flaws in my delivery.

Message boards filled with accusations of the event promoting rape culture, elitism and I was painted as a villain by some members of the community that initially inspired me. 

I responded to my accusers providing statements on the mission of NSFW, changed language on the event page removing any trigger words, which to me seemed innocent but in the ears of others proved to insight painful memories, outreached to other event producers for partnerships, consulted with educators in the field of sex positivity to advise on ways to increase safety at our events and hosted our first "How to Ask for Sex" class focused on enthusiastic consent and it's application in all parts of our lives. I didn't want the mistakes made in one event to damage the mission that NSFW was intended to take. I believe in the healing power of what I created and PlayDate was the cumulation of knowledge gained through this sexual enlightenment. 

My approach drew the attention of journalist Alden Wicker who began working on an article about the inner workings of New York's play scene and the business of pleasure.

It initially was going to be a piece for Esquire following attendees heading to NSFW PlayDate, but that changed once the second phase of NSFW was announced and I reveled a little bit more about what I had planned for NSFW



Sinfluencers, Vice and the Adventure Lifestyle

For those who don't know me, my background is in luxury fashion.

For over twelve years now I've helped some of the industries top brands build their social, develop award-winning campaigns and have created and guided the development of multiple million dollar fashion and influencer brands. I started as a fashion blogger reaching 5M monthly readers, became a consultant for brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Vogue, became the first blogger to become CMO of a fashion brand, I created Socialyte, an industry disrupting agency which focused on developing new ways to approach millennial marketing and have been quoted in Forbes, Bloomberg, Mashable and continue to be considered one of the brighter minds in the space of millennial marketing.

Rather than just relying on members to foot the bill for our little adventures, my plan was to get sponsors on board to partner with our society of "sinfluencers", influential decision makers and digital talents living the adventurous lifestyle. I'd create a digital agency dedicated to representing vice to over 100 million millennials through the social profiles and media properties of influential adventurers.

NSFW would focus attention on the brands that aligned with these adventurous millennials going after the $50 Billion dollar sex toy industry, the $20 Billion dollar cannabis industry, the $20 Billion dollar erotic entertainment industry, the $50 Billion nightlife and festival industry and the trillion dollar defense industry.

I planned to do more than host my sexy parties, I planned to change the way vice-category brands marketed themselves and in the process take a massive chunk of the marketing dollars they spend each year disrupting an industry in need of a shake-up.


Legal adventures in sex, drugs and crime.


Trump vs Saynt

Now back to what got you to click on this in the first place, Trump aka the current cause of nauseam and constant panic attacks amongst all rationally-minded Americans.

While I was preparing for NSFW's revealing expose and getting myself ready for life in the public eye as a sex-positive entrepreneur fighting the good fight for open expression, Trump was attacking all the values that made America great. LGBTQ's were once again in the GOP's targets as a conversion therapist supporter was getting ready to take a seat at the White House as Vice President.  I could see what was coming, a new regime ready to destroy the protections we recently received, ready to discriminate based on their own antiquated ideas of sex and relationships, ready to destroy sexual wellness by defunding Planned Parenthood and ending support for a woman's right to choose.

It was sickening and more importantly, inspiring.

Trump's rise mobilized millions in opposition, it united the media for one purpose, woke up the free rights lawyers ready to assist those in need and brought to light a sickness within our country, one desperately in need of our love, empathy and attention. 

It also got me thinking about my own contribution in the world.

For years, my focus has been on promoting products which offer temporary happiness.

Stuff gets old, things go out of style and you want to look your best without makeup, not with it. And while I loved working on the young media brands Socialyte represents, I just felt like so much of my focus was on selling people things they don't actually need. I wanted to apply the skills I developed over the years on a new field, one in which the products provide medicinal benefits and promote a lifestyle which in my opinion is happier and  more fulfilling. 

I wanted to contribute more and in order to do that I needed to make a choice. 


Stepping Down to Step Up

Soon after the article was released I stepped down as CEO of Socialyte, the agency I founded and built into one of the industry's most respected casting agency for fashion, beauty and luxury influencers. It was a hard decision, but one which was necessary in order for me to more actively promote the ideals of NSFW.

While I will truly miss my employees and the many influencers we built into million dollar brands, I feel the work that needs to be done at NSFW is more aligned with my guiding principals and gives me the opportunity to teach others about the importance of living an adventurous lifestyle while fighting the new rules being enforced that could prevent all Americans from freely doing so.

We instated our 6.9% commitment to Planned Parenthood and other groups focused on sexual wellness, the protection of LGBTQ's and a woman's right to choose. Soon we'll announce a few brands aimed at raising these funds with us, helping fuel fellow warriors out there and keeping our brother and sisterhood protected in these troubling times. 

There's more in development to keep this important work moving and I'm blessed to be working on something I'm so passionate about protecting, so I guess thank you Trump. Because you're such a colossal douchebag you got me to pay attention and dedicate myself to changing lives instead of chasing commerce.

Hopefully, this is the only legacy you leave, one in which you mobilized millions against you.

In Closing

Whatever your thoughts on what I'm doing, try to get the full story.

Some people just see "sex club" and immediate go into their judgement zones.

This type of thinking is exactly what we all need to be fighting.

This is the same thinking that has kept minorities segregated, prevented happy couples from expressing their love through marriage and allows for the unnecessary violence that so many are now experiencing.

Don't be a Trump.

Open your mind or at least allow others to open theirs and if you have any questions or judgements feel free to reach out. I'll try to respond to all.  Email me at 

The Rise of Fashion's Anti-Socials

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being asked to weigh in on the growing anti-social trend amongst some of fashion's most prominent names, supers in the field who've bucked the trend and choose to say more with less. 

I often think about going anti-social myself. I don't have a big following, about 30k across my profiles, and I often find myself with nothing worth sharing. It's not that I don't live an exciting life, it's more that I tire of having to update everyone on what I'm eating, where I'm traveling and what tissue paper I use to wipe my ass. I obviously adore those who manage to make any of that seem interesting, but inside I feel I just lack that creative spark/time/commitment/intereste to make a morning coffee look like a page in Vogue.

That being said, I've recently made adjustments to better Olivier Zahm my life, taking a page from the EIC of Purple Magazine's book of strategic oversharing and just adjusting my eye to focus on those around me versus at the mirror.

I'm sharing a good portion of this type of storytelling now, but much like the anti-socials spoken about in this story, I've chosen to keep those stories private to a smaller group of my personal insiders. I might not build a million follower personal following in my lifetime, but at least I'm keeping someone swiping right...

Thanks Navaz for thinking of me for this! You can read the full story below or at Glamour UK

Some of fashion's most influential designers are fighting back against the tsunami of backstage snaps and #OOTD - in their own quietly cool way. Meet the new anti-socials, says Navaz Batliwalla.

When Marc Jacobs accidentally shared a nude selfie with his 191,000 Instagram followers last summer, it was the ultimate cringe moment - and we collectively blushed on his behalf. The powerhouse designer styled out his social slip-up with trademark humour, of course, but for the traditionally secretive fashion industry, the social-media boom has been a tricky path to navigate. And now there are signs of a backlash.

There's certainly no shortage of fashion chatter out there right now, but there's also a new wave of social-shy visionaries on the scene, rarely seen or heard on social media. When Alexander Wang stepped down from Balenciaga, his replacement was the influential yet little known Demna Gvasalia from anonymous (and beyond cool) design collective Vetements. Then there's Johnny Coca at Mulberry, who arrives from creating handbags for über-stealthy luxe label Céline. And at Hermès, the appointment of Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski as creative director has reignited our passion for all things equestrian without so much as a hint of a #shoefie or #throwbackthursday. Instead, her softer, sportier take on the label has hooked us in by shining a spotlight on the clothes, not herself.

It's an unexpected twist at a time when the pressure is on to step out ­­from behind the cutting table. 

It's an unexpected twist at a time when the pressure is on to step out ­­from behind the cutting table and join the online conversation. For the likes of unstoppable Brand Beckham and Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, the chummy insider access felt by their fans inspires brand loyalty and equals sales. It's the reason H&M announced its collaboration with Balmain's Olivier Rousteing on Instagram. What better way to speak to a million potential customers instantly than by embracing his 'Balmain Army'?

Yet an increasing number of key fashion players are just saying no.

Christopher Bailey, Phoebe Philo, Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane are among the most influential names in fashion, but they're also the ones we know the least about. And that's no accident. "Mystery attracts - and personalities who maintain the allure can gain longevity in the industry," says Daniel Saynt, CEO of Socialyte, an agency that represents some of the world's leading creative influencers. For Hedi Slimane, a public Twitter spat with critic Cathy Horyn following his Saint Laurent debut led him to dial down his social-media presence to near zero. Meanwhile, Céline's Phoebe Philo has always been enigmatic. The designer famously hates explaining her collections, and has said that, "The chicest thing is when you don't exist on Google."

The chicest thing is when you don't exist on Google.

Trend-forecasting agency The Future Laboratory puts the shift down to 'Peak Real' - the reaction to the overstyled, Instagram-ready version of everyday life being portrayed on social media. "It's a term we came up with around the idea of Anti-Authenticity," says their branding expert, Daniela Walker. "We've come to an exhaustion point when we talk about authenticity because so much is very carefully crafted." Think teen Instagram star Essena O'Neill, who dramatically quit the social network after revealing some of her posts were, in fact, undisclosed ads for clothes she was paid to wear.

After nearly a decade of hardcore Facebooking, Instagramming and Tweeting, we need a break. Enough with the constant life documentation. Inspired by the likes of Lena Dunham (whose answer to troll fatigue was to swap social media for her 'Lenny' email newsletter), a new generation is rediscovering the benefits of privacy as we enter the 'deletist age', in which we're more choosy about what we put out there.

For fashion's new anti-socials, that means a less-is-more and decidedly hashtag-free approach. "Instead of following what's trending among the Instagram set, saying less allows them to maintain their vision, without becoming another blur in the feed," says Saynt.

Mystery attracts - and personalities who maintain the allure can gain longevity in the industry.

It's a strategy that means going easy on superficial selfies and keeping things sharply focused, explains Matthew Williamson's business director, Rosanna Falconer. "Our most-liked posts are a stolen moment in Matthew's favourite market on holiday or a close-up of hand embroidery that he took in his studio." For architecture geek (and Louis Vuitton creative director) Nicolas Ghesquière, that focus is on futuristic buildings discovered on his travels and a peek into the design atelier. In fact, far-flung landscapes and backstage snippets seem the common language of the minimal feeds of this discerning set, which includes super-stylists Marie-Amélie Sauvé and Melanie Ward, and press-shy Céline model Daria Werbowy (think Irish landscapes and arty self-portraits). Just enough of a glimpse into their inspiring worlds to keep us wanting more.

Are you tempted to dial down your own social chatter? Then you might want to take a leaf from the playbook of the stealth social set. As chief anti-social star Kate Moss would no doubt agree, this strong-but-silent strategy could actually enhance the appeal of your personal online brand.


Edit and filter...  So that you're sharing without oversharing.

Avoid the obvious...  Think: those ubiquitous magazine-and-coffee arrangements.

Be mysterious...  It's OK to maintain a dignified silence occasionally.

Be yourself...  Relax: Everyone loves the real you.

For more fashion insider musings, check out Navaz's blog at

The "Destroy Influencer" Button

There's one special button built into the influencer software I designed for Socialyte that makes my heart rejoice in the most sinister of ways. 

For those unaware, Socialyte is more than just another influencer agency. There's some tech in the background that we continue to evolve to make our method better than our competitors. 

The infamous button I speak of is the "Destroy Influencer" button and its use is often met with great fanfare amongst those at Influence HQ. 

The ceremony for it's usage is quite grandiose.

Schedules are cleared. Caterers are called. Hannah Bronfman's booked to DJ.

Then the entire staff stands around a computer screen as we countdown to the pushing of the button. Within a millisecond the influencer is removed from our database (one which is shared with about 300 of our clients). With cheers and fanfare the existing bane of our existence is eradicated and forgotten, never to be spoken of again.

Actually, that's not true.

Our disdain for the destroyed influencers is often shared at meetings with clients contemplating working with such unholy souls, at which time we share the reasons as to why these individuals would be the worst possible choice for the brand to engage in, quickly offer a handful of alternatives, and at times forgo our fee to prevent the brand from making the mistake we once made in working with the undesirable.

The use of this button is rare. 

In five years since starting Socialyte, we've only used the button a handful of times. Not bad considering we're running campaigns across thousands of talents with over 100 activations monthly. To help prevent any up and coming talent from getting destroyed, I've put together three reasons why we'd destroy an influencer. 

1. Not Getting Your Shit Together. It's a broad term that covers a lot of bases, but if you're engaged with us and you don't respond to emails, texts, DMs, snapchats, WhatsApp messages, or carrier pigeon when you owe us deliverables for a paid campaign, then you're hitting our shit list and may very well be on your way to destruction. While most influencers are good at keeping their schedules and managing their lives to make a career out of their fanbase, every so often we meet a spoiled twatter who believes rainbows shit out of their selfies and finds it perfectly fine to expect $15k for an Instagram but not actually deliver on the requirements of the campaign. 

When an influencer doesn't do what they need to do, we lose a client. We lose a client, I can't feed my kids*. One of the fastest ways for an influencer to get destroyed is to fuck with putting food on the table for my brood. It's a bit of my inner Bronx boy creeping in, but we have a reputation to maintain at Socialyte and when influencers fail to do their part of the bargain, we get fucked, clients move on, and the weeks, sometimes months it's taken to secure that client are lost.

2. Lying About Your Stats. Aside from just looking at an Instagram account and knowing that it's bought followers, we have tools in place to check your stats and ensure you're truly as influential as you claim. We track everything at Socialyte, so if we run a campaign with you, and your fans turn out to be some trumped up robots, then we're probably going to destroy you. We base our campaigns on KPI's we need to hit for our clients, if you lie, we don't hit these KPI's and clients aren't happy with us. We like keeping our clients happy. 

3. Trying to Go Around Us to Work With a Client We Introduced You To. We're a casting agency. We work with brands to cast campaigns. If we come to you with an opportunity and you accept it, agreeing to our terms, don't try to go around us to work directly with the client to cut us out of the deal. Not only will you most likely be dropped from the campaign, but if you do manage to get it, we'll spend the rest of our lives talking about what a shady dick you are. Again, don't fuck with my money. It's not a threat, just a promise that in doing so you will be someone I wish a flesh-eating virus upon. 

The Sayntly Sentiment

1. Don't be an influencer who thinks unprofessionalism, lying, and trying to be sheisty will get you far. You will be destroyed and not just by us. This space is too competitive to have anyone out there talking shit about you, so try not to be a douche and you'll probably have a career past your 30's. It's not surprising that the same people who get destroyed by us are also the people who brands seem to have the most complaints about. We actually have played a game in which we and the brand manager shout out the name of the person who's fucked us over. Often we say the name in unison and then laugh about how that person's missing out. Petty? Sure, but oh so satisfying. 

2. We don't push the "Destroy Influencer" button unless you've cost us money or lied to us. Try to remember that being an "influencer" is being a business. Why would anyone work with you if you have a bad reputation? Why would you want anyone out there speaking negatively about you? Don't get a bad reputation, especially in a field as competitive and small as this one. I've built a career and a name for myself even with a good amount of people thinking I'm an asshole before they've ever met me. A lot of it is cause of how I write. Some is cause people truly dislike me. Fortunately, I'm a rare talent, so my brazen nature hasn't hindered my path to millionaire, but if you're an influencer, in a field flush with influencers, it's probably a good idea to not have people disliking you before ever meeting you.

* By kids I'm referring to my pups Calvin Klein and Balenciaga. Also our employees, who all feel a bit like family and deserve to have jobs, security, and all those things they lose when an influencer screws up a campaign and we lose a client. 

Your 15 Minutes Aren't Up. Marketing Dollars Shift to the Selfie Generation

Building a career around on the edge of innovation was alway tough.

As CMO of Rebecca Minkoff, I spent much of my time analyzing platforms, justifying their growing audiences as a method of knowing which new social networks deserved our attention and marketing dollars. The marketing spend was always around promotions on the platform and the internal development of the content needed to fill them. 

Around that time Instagram was still in it's infancy but quickly becoming a necessary tool, Tumblr was pushing out branded profiles in an attempt to stay relevant with fashion advertisers, and the fashion blogger was quickly becoming more and more self obsessed and relevant for marketing campaigns. We'd work with sites like Purse Blog on new product launches and partner with influencers on branded campaigns, becoming one of the first movers in the industry, showing other brands how to really tap on these new talents, putting Rumi Neely and Leandra Medine on the runway, having one of the first blogger front rows,  and winning accolades for our continued innovation.

Now, many of those practices I helped pioneer have gone mainstream.

Nearly every designer is in someway engaging with digital influencers. The market is flush with cash and in the formerly titled "Twitterati" are now banking millions in yearly endorsements. Socialyte, the influencer casting agency I launched with Beca Alexander a few years back has seen triple digit revenue growth year after year since we launched, growing from our apartment to a sprawling SoHo office space in a building shared with Andy Warhol's Interview.

When our elevators open on the 2nd floor of 110 Greene Street and a large glossy cover of the mag featuring Brad Pitt glances my way, I think of Andy's predictions for the future, when he claimed everyone would get their 15 minutes of fame, and how accurately that embodies our current generation, and it's obsession with shameless self promotion.

In many ways, the money supports the obsession. We've seen campaigns go from $50 bucks a gram to $150k for brand ambassador programs for top Instagram stars. Some of our biggest talents are hitting high 6-digit incomes and we're expecting it to only increase as more and more brands flood the space looking to circumvent Instagram's high price tag for advertising and a desire to be the brand with the most fans. 

A recent article by Kelly Flynn explores Madison Avenue's new love for digital celebrities and how they're replacing traditional celebs in endorsement deals. It's just another testament to the power of this new generation of content creators, the new norm in digital marketing. 

Read some experts below.

It was all about selfies for Christine Adelina, until May 1, 2014. That's when the 22-year-old student and obsessive Instagram poster from London learned her large following on the photo-sharing app could translate to some decent income. After attending a meetup for Instagram "influencers," she switched from bedroom and bathroom selfies to artistic portrayals of the world around her, now spending at least three hours a day on the app.

And brands are gawking -- handing over ad dollars to Adelina and other so-called influencers, anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the deal, to join their marketing campaigns. While some sponsorship deals simply reward users with gifts for sending out company-related Instagram posts, others are contracted.

Take Nabisco’s #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, for example. That marketing strategy to promote new Ritz Crisp and Thin crackers -- to which Adelina and a handful of other contracted influencers submitted two photos for this June  -- reached 7.5 million people. One post from British blogger Tanya Burr, who boasts 2 million Instagram followers, drew 110,000 likes.

It's the latest sign that Madison Avenue and its counterparts worldwide are recognizing the pitch power of organically born social media stars like Adelina and Burr. They can be just as influential, or even moreso, as celebs like the Kardashians. Consumers, the thinking goes, may connect more readily with individuals who lead lives like their own. “For 'Putting on the Ritz,' we were very interested in getting people involved. The campaign seemed more real,” said Jana Soosova, social media campaign manager at London-based PHD Media.

Earlier this month, Instagram introduced its first ad product for businesses. The system allows companies to quickly create standard ads, target them to selected users and include direct-response buttons (like “Buy Now” as seen on Facebook, Twitter and Google). The move will spur more ads on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app -- and fuel Instagram’s predicted rise to $2.8 billion in revenue by 2017.

But there have always been ads on Instagram, some of which have been embraced by the over 300 million-person active community and have enthralled some forward-thinking brands with big budgets like Coca-Cola, L’Oreal and Asos. Rather than sign contract after contract with celebrities, who boast the biggest follower counts on Instagram, some companies have latched onto the artists that have helped build up the young, but fast-growing network.  

“Usually the campaigns are more creative, more advanced than you would see on other networks. Whoever is creating the ads puts more effort into the process,” said Soosova.


Treading Lightly

Facebook has been moving slowly to develop Instagram into an advertising powerhouse, like its main site has become. "We're very, very cautious. Instagram remains small relative to Facebook, and it’s really going to take time,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during the company’s earnings call in July. Facebook does not break out revenues for the site.

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 -- two years after its launch -- for $1 billion. At the time, there were about 30 million accounts on the app. That has since jumped to 300 million monthly active users who share 70 million photos a day.

Influencers have emphasized that the company should be careful not to frustrate the power users and consumers.

“I think this community thrives on creativity,” Adelina said.

“My Instagram style is very minimalistic and whimsical,” said Kerstin Hiestermann, a mother of three who boasts 278,000 followers.

With Instagram’s new system, marketers can generate ads with a click, and the formalized system is just starting. For now, not all sponsorship campaigns need to be approved by Instagram, as long as they fit the terms of service.

That’s not the case for YouTube, where creators must inform the site of product placement and these can only be done by official partners. Google can remove a video if it does not meet standards or if pre-roll ads, from which YouTube takes a 45 percent cut, conflict.

Instagram is now tapping into its own ad cut for revenue, and eMarketer has predicted that the app could generate $600 million in sales this year.

The Sayntly Sentiment

1. Millions are being pumped into ad campaigns featuring and produced by the selfie generation.

2. While Youtube holds standards for creators, Instagram doesn't. Market shifts towards monetization on Instagram may spell trouble for Instagram stars within a few years as the FTC and standards of practice may interfere with influencers monetizing on the platform. 

3. High rewards in the market are bringing thousands of selfie proclaimed influencers into the field. More supply will meet current demands, but as the amount of available influencers increase, we're going to see lower payouts for influencers in the future. Influencers should begin diversifying their revenue streams, and planning for the future in order to prevent suspected dips in revenue as the market evens out. 

MeerkatS are So Last Season; Periscope TakES THE Lead with Influencers But SNAPCHAT IS Poised TO OWN THE SPACE

There has been a lot of excitement around the mobile live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope. While Meerkat was left to fend for itself when Twitter cut off its API access, Periscope has emerged as a favorite among marketers. The competition is still tight, especially with Meerkat’s recent launch of Cameo with Facebook integration, which holds the promise of connecting brands and influencers in meaningful ways.

To be clear, live-streaming is a long established medium. Platforms like Ustream, Twitch, and Bambuser have been serving the world with live content for more than a decade. What’s different with Meerkat and Periscope is the mobile first approach, which enables brands to deliver exclusive content to an increasingly mobile audience.

Neither Periscope nor Meerkat offer paid advertising products, so at least for now, the mobile live-streaming industry is in the experimentation stage. But that hasn’t stopped the emergence of influencers on both platforms. In fact, Nestle was one of the first brands to run a sponsored influencer campaign on Periscope for the Drumstick brand.

While Drumstick was able to broadcast live scenes from across the U.S., the campaign depended heavily on the connection between Twitter-Periscope. Likewise, Meerkat Cameo allows brands to invite creators to takeover a stream, and promote that takeover on Facebook.

According to Adweek:

Cameo seems ripe with real-time marketing possibilities. So, the question probably isn’t if brands will use the feature to work with influencers or celebrities but when.

Surely both Periscope and Meerkat will develop paid ad products. However, for now, brands and marketers are already helping to develop use cases on both platforms. The stage certainly seems set for influencers and social media creatives to help brands tell compelling stories using live video.

One big question remains: Which platform is better? While data indicates the two networks are neck in neck, it also indicates that Periscope is on track to drive more long-term engagement. According to Keyhole analytics, not only does Periscope have more users who return, but there are more active influencers on the Twitter-owned platform.

Arguably, if you are an established influencer on Twitter, it’s much easier and more convenient to grow your presence on Periscope since your audience would get a notification each time you starts live broadcasting.

Whether or not Meerkat and Periscope will dominate the mobile live streaming market is yet to be determined. Snapchat seems only a step away from providing live video functions with its “Live Story” section, and recently introduced native advertising solution “Vertical Video Views.”

Yahoo also launched a social messaging platform Livetext, which many dubbed as “Periscope meets Snapchat.” The app allows users to text their friends while sharing real-time videos and images on screen simultaneously.

All of this points to an arms race of sorts among mobile-first live-streaming video providers. Influencers will be integral in exploring and establishing the best uses for each platform. As always, the cream will rise to the top and users will flock to the network — or networks — that deliver the best experience.


1. Periscope is the clear leader for brands looking to engage live-streaming viewers and influencers.

2. Other contenders are entering the field and SnapChat may soon introduce "Live Stories" copying the function of Periscope, offering the service to a larger userbase and potentially removing the need to use any other live streaming service.