NEW YORK, United States — Now, here’s an interesting factoid: young American sportswear designer Peter Som has over 3,300,000 followers on Pinterest. To put this number into context, consider that digital darling Burberry, a brand with far greater resources, has only 38,000 followers on the service, while the much adored Proenza Schouler has only 9,000.
So how was Som able to build such a remarkable following?
“There’s no real strategy, I have to say. It happened quite organically,” Som told BoF. “I actually do a lot of Pinterest myself and I’m assuming that’s why there are so many followers — because it’s really me and it’s authentic and genuinely what I like. I think people respond to that. It’s that simple. It’s just me and my voice.”
Importantly, Pinterest users typically turn to the platform for inspiration and Som’s pins extend far beyond the expected brand content that most fashion labels publish online. The runway imagery, backstage shots and lookbook excepts are all there. But alongside these assets, Som maintains a number of whimsical, editorialised boards with catchy titles like ‘Bright Young Things,’ ‘Black and White Chicness,’ and ‘She’s Come Undone.’
“‘Birds of a Feather’ was started because I started seeing all these feathers and I have feathers in my collection oftentimes,” said Som.
What’s more, Som’s boards span more than fashion. Some display his favourite books and gardens. Others catalog exotic travel destinations and architectural inspirations. Critically, they also cover Pinterest’s most popular categories, including home décor and food and drink.
“Some of the biggest repins are from food — I love cooking,” said Som. “The intial thought was definitely to get the brand out there, but it really turned into more of ‘the world of Peter Som,’” he continued. “I think users can tell when they’re just being sold something. If it was just my products, it wouldn’t be as interesting as putting that into the context of everything I like and my interests.”
But has Som’s success with Pinterest translated into business impact?
“We’re a small company and we don’t advertise in the conventional way, so Pinterest is a great way to get my point of view out there and capture a large audience,” said the designer. “When you click on a picture, you also return to its original source, which can be Shopbop, for example,” he added. “E-commerce is our biggest store and [Pinterest] is another way to expand our reach. I think there is a correspondance [with sales], but we’re not tracking this in a scientific way.”
With a following this size, Som could definitely do worse than examine Pinterest analytics tools like Curalate and Pinfluencer — which allow brands to track the popularity and reach of their pins and boards — and meld authenticity with insight.