PARIS — In the beauty and fashion industry, Instagram and brands have begun to blend into one. And it's happening all over the world. As Sabine Delanglade explains in Les Echos, the French business daily, the social media success stories tend to follow a certain script. You need at least 50,000 followers for sponsors to start being interested in your profile, which can lead to partnerships with existing brands. Top one million, and you might start to think about launching a makeup or clothing line of your own.
But every Instagram "story" is different. Posting in English is usually required to rise to Instagram megastar status, but many haven't started out that way. Here are five international "Instabrands' who've made it big.
@MichelleLewin — VENEZUELA
Michelle Lewin was born in Venezuela but moved in 2012 to Miami, FL. At the age of 17, she focused on a fitness career. The now-fitness model started posting videos of her doing her workout, giving advice on sport and healthy eating in 2014. She has always posted in both Spanish and English on social media since she has moved in the U.S. You now can watch Lewin's workout videos in Spanish and English. She started doing partnerships with fitness brands and even wrote a book in June 2018: The Hot Body Diet: The Plan To Radically Transform Your Body In 28 Days. The Spanish version was also available (La Dieta Del Cuerpazo), a month later. She ended up creating her own clothing line WHEN (gym and streetwear) and developed meal and workout plans apps (they all have their own Instagram pages).
Michelle Lewin wearing her fitness collection one0one — Photo Michelle Lewin/ via Instragram
@HudaBeauty — DUBAI
Huda Kattan has 37.8 million followers on her professional account. Based in Dubai but born in Oklahoma City in the U.S from Iraqi parents, Kattan first started in 2010 with a Wordpress blog named Huda Beauty which today is the most viewed beauty blog on the Internet, with hundreds of makeup tutorials and tips. In 2013, she launched her beauty line also name Huda Beauty, which is sold in Sephora stores worldwide. Forbes reports that it's grown into a billion-dollard brand. Many consider Kattan the most powerful influencer in the makeup industry, even if the first product she sold were false eyelashes!
Huda Kattan at Huda Beauty's new office — Photo: Huda Beauty/ via Instagram
@ChiaraFerragni — ITALY
With 16.8 million followers, the Italian blogger/stylist made branding history with a beautifully sponsored wedding last September. For her nuptials, Ferragni inked partnerships with not with one but seven brands for her special day: Prada, Dior, Versace, Trudi, Alitalia, M&M's and Alberta Ferreti. They even had a sponsored plane transport their guests to the wedding destination. She posted: the plane was #SuppliedByAlitalia. All the sponsorships were tagged with the hashtag "#suppliedby". The hashtag #TheFerragnez was used 26,255 times during and after the wedding. Ferragni has become a huge celebrity in the fashion world, mostly with top Italian brand. By now, most of her posts are in English but she still sometimes sprinkles in some Italian, especially in her Instagram "stories." She recently "crossed the Alps' to launch a makeup collaboration with the French brand Lancôme to be available in 20 countries worldwide.
Chiara Ferragni & Fedez and their "Pomellato" rings — Photo : Chiarra Ferragni / via Instagram
@MuradOsmann — RUSSIA
Murad Osmann is known for his photos series #Followmeto. Everything started in the streets of Barcelona in 2011 when this Russian photographer went on a trip with his wife Nataly and took a simple shot of her walking with his arm outstretched holding her hand. It went viral. That moment turned his passion project into a legitimate travel business. Now, everywhere they go, he snaps a #Followmeto photo for their 4.1 million followers. More than 3 million posts have the hashtag created by Murad Osmann. The couple has their own 20-minute TV show on Channel One Russia, a kind of behind-the-scenes of how they make their online photo and video posts. The TV show is in Russian but English subtitles are available. By now, almost all of their Instagram posts are in English, as Murad and Nataly Osmann also have deals with Macy's and Napa Valley's Beringer Vineyards. Za Lyubov!
#Followmeto Moscow, Russia — Photo: Murad Osmann/ via Instagram
@Nabilla — FRANCE
Like her Kardashian kounterparts, Nabilla Benattia is famous for being famous (or infamous) after her stint on a French reality TV show. Originally from Geneva, Switzerland, she came to France to take part in Les Anges in 2012. The following year, fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier choose her for the presentation of his autumn-winter collection. Benattia was a star at making headlines, most notably in 2015 for stabbing her boyfriend in a dispute. She served six months in prison, her boyfriend survived and they got married. Social media needs people like this!
With 4,4 million followers on Instagram, is one of the biggest influencers in the French language, reaching Francophone audiences around the world. Her edgy teenaged image has since been replaced by a high-brow woman. Yes, the focus is on branding, and she has recently launched a beauty brand Nabcosmetic and swimwear line. Et voila!
Benattia wearing her makeup line — Photo: Nabilla/ via Instagram
The military has seized control in one of Africa's largest countries, which until recently had made significant progress towards transitioning to democracy after years of strongman rule. But the people, and international community, may not be willing to turn back.
This week the head of Sudan's Sovereign Council, General Abdel Fattah El Burhan, declared the dissolution of the transitional council, which has been in place since the overthrow of former president Omar el-Bashir in 2019. He also disbanded all the structures that had been set up as part of the transitional roadmap, and decreed a state of emergency.
In essence, he staged a palace coup against the transitional authority he chaired.
The general's actions, which included the arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, are a culmination of a long period of tension between the civilian and military wings of the council.
A popular uprising may be inevitable
The tensions were punctuated by an alleged attempted coup only weeks earlier. The days leading to the palace coup were marked by street protests for and against the military. Does this mark the end of the transition as envisaged by the protest movement?
Their ability to confront counter revolutionary forces cannot be underestimated.
The popular uprising against Bashir's government was led by the Sudan Professional Association. It ushered in the political transitional union of civilians and the military establishment. The interim arrangement was to lead to a return to civilian rule.
But this cohabitation was tenuous from the start, given the oversized role of the military in the transition. Moreover, the military appeared to be reluctant to see the civilian leadership as an equal partner in shepherding through the transition.
Nevertheless, until recently there had been progress towards creating the institutional architecture for the transition. Despite the challenges and notable tension between the signatories to the accord, it was never evident that the dysfunction was so great as to herald the collapse of the transitional authority.
For now, the transition might be disrupted and in fact temporarily upended. But the lesson from Sudan is never to count the masses out of the equation. Their ability to mobilize and confront counter revolutionary forces cannot be underestimated.
The transitional pact itself had been anchored by eight arduously negotiated protocols. These included regional autonomy, integration of the national army, revenue sharing and repatriation of internal refugees. There was also an agreement to share out positions in national political institutions, such as the legislative and executive branch.
Progress towards these goals was at different stages of implementation. More substantive progress was expected to follow after the end of the transition. This was due in 2022 when the chair of the sovereignty council handed over to a civilian leader. This military intervention is clearly self-serving and an opportunistic power grab.
A promised to civilian rule in July 2023 through national elections.
In November, the rotational chairmanship of the transitional council was to be passed from the military to the civilian wing of the council. That meant the military would cede strong leverage to the civilians. Instead, with the coup afoot, Burhan has announced both a dissolution of the council as well as the dismissal of provincial governors. He has unilaterally promised return to civilian rule in July 2023 through national elections.
Prior to this, the military had been systematically challenging the pre-eminence of the civilian authority. It undermined them and publicly berated them for governmental failures and weaknesses. For the last few months there has been a deliberate attempt to sharply criticize the civilian council as riddled with divisions, incompetent and undermining state stability.
File photo shows Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in August 2020
Generals in suits
Since the revolution against Bashir's government, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.
For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council.
This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy. True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19.
Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse.
Demands of the revolution
The success or failure of this coup will rest on a number of factors.
First is the ability of the military to use force. This includes potential violent confrontation with the counter-coup forces. This will dictate the capacity of the military to change the terms of the transition.
Second is whether the military can harness popular public support in the same way that the Guinean or Egyptian militaries did. This appears to be a tall order, given that popular support appears to be far less forthcoming.
The international community's appetite for military coups is wearing thin.
Third, the ability of the Sudanese masses to mobilize against military authorities cannot be overlooked. Massive nationwide street protests and defiance campaigns underpinned by underground organizational capabilities brought down governments in 1964, 1985 and 2019. They could once again present a stern test to the military.
Finally, the international community's appetite for military coups is wearing thin. The ability of the military to overcome pressure from regional and international actors to return to the status quo could be decisive, given the international support needed to prop up the crippled economy.
The Sudanese population may have been growing frustrated with its civilian authority's ability to deliver on the demands of the revolution. But it is also true that another coup to reinstate military rule is not something the protesters believe would address the challenges they were facing.
Sudan has needed and will require compromise and principled political goodwill to realise a difficult transition. This will entail setbacks but undoubtedly military intervention in whatever guise is monumentally counterproductive to the aspirations of the protest movement.
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