Based on the way Charles Gross describes it, his social media persona over the past seven years has followed a similar path to the fashion industry’s reputation. (Fashion has been slower in its evolution, of course.)
“I was very toxic and negative,” he said of his attitude on YouTube, where he posted daily videos from 2015-2019 and gained more than 300,000 subscribers. He also described feeling “remote,” “removed” and “distanced” from his YouTube audience, based on the platform’s model. He has since worked with a life coach to become the positive person his 720,000 TikTok followers know today. And he’s taken advantage of TikTok’s opportunities to connect with his community, including dedicating posts to answering questions and regularly engaging with comments.
“[On TikTok,] the connection with the creator and the audience is so genuine and so close,” Gross said. ”I feel like I’m right in the room with people, just having an enjoyable time talking about stuff we love.”
The 26-year-old has carved out a unique presence on the platform, built on his fashion expertise, polished style and ASMR-level soothing voice. He follows a fairly consistent video formula of presenting a well-known luxury item, then cueing up an explanation of its value, price or cult status with his catchphrase, “Let’s talk about it.”
Among his most popular videos are those calling out that the signature “basic” styles worn by billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are actually luxury items. One of the videos, titled “The Secret Most Expensive Clothes,” has more than 5 million views.
“Luxury fashion can feel very prohibitive and exclusionary; there’s this bubble around it created by luxury shoppers, and they don’t want to let anyone in,” he said. “I never liked that. So my goal is to make luxury fashion information as accessible as possible. The interest is universal, whether someone is looking to buy an item or they’re just looking to learn more.”
Gross was unintentionally groomed for his role as a fashion influencer, growing up with parents who worked as designers in the industry and read him fashion magazines at bedtime. Following high school, he turned a major profit by selling an authentic Hermes Birkin he managed to snag for $300 on eBay. That led him to launch a resale business-slash-consultancy focused on finding Birkins for private clients in his home of NYC.
That experience helped earn him the credibility that has no doubt been a driver for the brands now approaching him for partnerships. They’ve ranged from resale company Fashionphile to affordable skin-care brand BLDG Active. “It’s an incredible thing for an influencer to work with a big company, and they can learn from each other,” he said. “But I will forsake any paycheck from a brand to stay loyal to my audience and authentic to them.”
And he’s creating a similar bond with the emerging fashion community. In September, he was invited by TikTok to attend New York Fashion Week events. He said he met and mingled with fellow influencers and insiders while attending Collina Strada and Christian Cowan, among other shows.
“Everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming,” he said. “The space is so different from how people describe it; it’s not like ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ at all.”
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