Yung Creatives is a series profiling talents of tomorrow across various fields, disciplines and mediums. Skilled in commerce and creativity, find out why these guys are generating significant buzz in the industry.
If there's one thing today's youth are good at, it's self-promotion. Ever adroit at internet vernacular and manipulating trend behavior through social media, the "iGeneration" is one that has adapted a knack for guerrilla marketing through a digital platform, many without even stepping foot inside a college business class or completing an accredited (unpaid) internship. Alexandre Daillance, aka @millinsky, is a firm testament to this notion.
Now 20 years old, the Parisian designer first cut his teeth in the industry at just 17 years old by launching a label of caps, dubbed NASASEASONS. The idea was simple enough, but it was Daillance's Instagram-savvy promotional ploys that landed his product on the heads of Rihanna, Keith Ape, Wiz Khalifa and just about every other "It" personality in the scene, as well as deals with influential stockists like 424 on Fairfax and colette.
I caught up with the young entrepreneur to learn more about how his brand became an internet sensation overnight, what advice he has for other emerging designers and why, to his chagrin, it's going to be a while before Paris's streetwear scene comes into its own.
How old are you?
20 years old.
Where are you from and where are you currently based?
I’m from Paris and I’m based in the New York area for over two years now.
What's your occupation?
I’m the director and designer of NASASEASONS.
When did you decide that you wanted to start a hat brand?
It was about two years ago during my last year of high school...I was very bored.
What are some of the influences behind the designs?
Girls are my main inspiration. The theme for each of my designs is "teenage romance," so I get inspired by my relationships with girls mainly. For example, when my ex-girlfriend cheated on me last year, I made the “Single For The Night” hat in reference to that event.
How did you come up with the name?
Good question. It just came up to me one day while brainstorming and I really liked it. It doesn’t mean anything in particular.
What was the first thing that really put your brand on the map?
Definitely when Rihanna wore the “I came to break hearts” hat in November of 2015. That changed everything. After that, this hat was everywhere on Instagram and Tumblr from one day to the other. In addition, a lot of retailers suddenly started to reach out to sell NASASEASONS and the brand’s e-store was booming.
What high-profile people have been seen wearing your brand and how did you get it on them?
Rihanna, North West, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, Zendaya, Rita Ora, Irina Shayk, G-Dragon…almost all of them bought the hat in one of the retailers I am distributed at such as colette, 424 on Fairfax and Boon The Shop.
The only exception is North West – someone from Kanye’s team emailed me last year and asked me to make custom baby NASASEASONS hat for Kanye’s daughter. That was very exciting!
What's the biggest financial strain with owning a brand? Do you think that you've finally broken even with your newfound success?
Luckily, by starting as a student, I was never in a dangerous position. Also I never really needed money for NASASEASONS due to the fact that I spend zero money on marketing (thanks to Instagram and my friends who modeled for the brand) and I pay production once receiving all the orders from stores so I was never really stressed on that part.
I always preferred to recirculate profits into the brand to make it grow constantly, but I am now starting to see real changes as NASASEASONS is being distributed in dozens of the most prestigious retailers around the world and the orders are getting bigger each season.
Did you ever think that your brand would blow up the way that it did?
I never believed that people like Rihanna or North West would ever wear my product, but on the other hand, I always believed in my brand and how it could appeal to a large audience. I have been very passionate about NASASEASONS since day one and I believe that hard work pays off, so I guess I kind of thought it would blow up someday but definitely not as fast as it did...
Why do you think people like it so much?
I think it’s because the product is very authentic and speaks to a lot of people. Each phrase reveals a feeling each one of us has experienced, so people relate to it very easily. We are in a day and age where people like to speak their minds very loudly, and wearing a hat with strong statements like "I came to break Hearts," "I used to miss you" or "Single For The Night" enables one to showcase his or her feelings very easily since it’s right on top of your head (laughs). Also, what’s great about those phrases is that they all work for both boys and girls as well as with both young people and adults.
What defines Paris street and youth culture right now?
Unfortunately, not much. I often have that discussion with my friends from Paris and we all agree that Paris doesn’t really have a streetwear scene like New York, Los Angeles or London. It’s hard to understand why, because Paris is a very established fashion capital, but I guess Parisian kids are not very loud.
However, I would say that Paris offers kids a good platform for exposure, since people from all over the world come here during Fashion Week and everyone in the “fashion world” goes to the same events; so it’s probably the best place/moment to network. I met so many people like Ian Connor, Luka Sabbat, Gabe of Uzi, Theophilus London, Virgil Abloh and Leo Mandella during Paris Fashion Week recently.
What's the biggest misconception about "the youth?" Do you think that kids who are influential are being exploited by mainstream media and brands?
Well, I don’t think any kids are being exploited. Mainstream media and brands provide great exposure to kids and enable them to monetize their image. Most of the “cool kids” we are talking about want to make a living off their social media presence and brands using them are the ones who will pay them at the end of the day. I think it’s a win-win process where everyone is happy.
My only worry is that those cool kids emerging every month from Instagram are part of a trend and as we know trends change and they change more rapidly nowadays. As a result, those cool kids need to realize that their social media success will probably not last very long, and so they should use their exposure to make contacts and then build something like a brand or do music or do styling or anything that they like that could serve as a long-term job.
Do you get a lot of haters sliding up in your DMs? How do you respond to them?
I actually don’t! Luckily, almost all the DMs I receive are from people congratulating me on my work or asking me for advice or work positions at NASASEASONS. It’s very nice to receive such messages, it also motivates me to work more and continue to prove that young people can be successful entrepreneurs, too.
Biggest piece of advice you can give to other emerging designers?
A designer needs to make sure his or her brand is authentic and stands for something for it to become successful. You need to make sure your product and message is very original and unique for it to spread and get mass attention.
Don’t try to follow trends and especially don’t listen to what people think of you or your work. If you believe in your idea, then it will work. Finally, while I get that social media presence is very important, the very first thing you should focus on is making a cool product. People will like your brand for its creativity and uniqueness, not for its number of followers.
What's the most/least positive thing about social media?
The best thing about social media is that it’s a free marketing tool that enables anyone to showcase anything to hundreds of millions of people in the world. It’s a great way for artists to get their designs known in a few weeks. It’s very revolutionary and democratic in many ways and it provides an infinite amount of opportunities.
In the case of NASASEASONS, Instagram clearly played a key factor in getting the attention of retailers like colette or 424 back in 2015, as well as building a big enough audience to successfully launch a NASASEASONS e-store.
The least positive thing about social media is that it makes people too dependent on the “follower count” system. Many people tend to judge people (artists especially) wrongly due to their amount of followers and don’t even take the time to have a personal opinion on whether they like them or not.
Also, I am worried that artists tend to spend more time on making their Instagram cool instead of making their art cool, it’s kind of a shame because your Instagram will probably disappear one day but your music or designs won't.
What's next for you?
I just launched a consulting firm called Lawrence Parker with Neil Saada, a friend from high school. Most of our services revolve around helping young brands similar to NASASEASONS and tech companies develop their visual identity.