PARIS, France — “Instagram makes up 60 to 65 percent of a fashion show’s raison d’être,” said Thierry Dreyfus, founder of Eyesight, a Paris-based production company that helps fashion brands like Comme des Garçons and Off-White stage their seasonal catwalks.
Some predicted that, with the onset of the digital age and the decline of the wholesale model, fashion shows, once geared at print magazines and department store buyers, would become obsolete. But the opposite happened as brands realised they needed content to feed their social media channels and reimagined their shows as Instagram-friendly spectacles.
Indeed, today, for the biggest brands, return on investment is largely measured in terms of social media impressions and show budgets can stretch to €5 million, boosting companies offering specialised fashion show production services like Eyesight, as well as competitors such as Bureau Betak, La Mode en Images, Villa Eugénie, KCD and OBO. Seeing opportunity, new players like Botana de Beauvau and Avoir, founded by Bureau Betak alumni Marine Decherf and Arthur Van Peteghem, have also joined the fray.
Show budgets can stretch to €5 million.
At one end of the spectrum, Bureau Betak, which helps to stage around 100 productions per year, generates over €50 million annually. But smaller firms like Eyesight are also benefitting. The company sait it recently raised about €5 million in investment from BNP Paribas in return for a 29 percent stake in the business, valuing Eyesight at around €18 million.
“A year ago, I was approached by several investors,” recalled Dreyfus. “At the beginning we were not interested. Our books are healthy and we’re growing steadily. But after some months of interesting discussions and negotiations, we closed a deal.” The company plans to use the fresh funding to expansion its activities in photoshoot production and launch a new department dubbed “Mental Real Estate” dedicated to marketing services.
It’s a big step for Dreyfus, who started his career as a lighting designer for the opera before becoming a lighting specialist and more for major fashion shows.
"He is more than a lighting genius," said Rei Kawakubo, the founder and creative director of Comme des Garçons. "He would often mention a word or a gesture, about how a model should walk or should look, that can be like a lightning stroke. He thinks of the whole thing, and knows that everything is connected, as I do."
Eyesight currently employs 14 people in Paris, 7 in New York and 2 in Milan. But during fashion week, Dreyfus still refuses to do more than two shows per day, so he can focus intensely on each job.
“Don’t consider it as a business," said Dreyfus. "This requires dedication."