M.Gemi has mastered the art of the shoe drop.

Since launching in 2015, the direct-to-consumer luxury footwear brand has relied on the buzzy drop model for its style releases. Last month, it updated the process by giving its Instagram followers a sneak peek of new shoes through Instagram Live. As a result, it has seen increased sales and site traffic, plus a boost in followers and engagement on the social channel.

The live videos — which are typically around one to three minutes and feature one to three styles — are hosted by Kayleigh Harrington, an influencer M.Gemi recruited through Instagram in March, when it prompted followers to submit unboxing videos to be considered for the position. The videos debut every Monday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, 30 minutes before they hit the M.Gemi site. Each features Harrington showing the shoes from every angle, as she describes them in detail and offers up styling advice. She also provides answers in real time to followers submitting questions during the sessions.

“It gives us a way to tell our story,” said Cheryl Kaplan, M.Gemi’s president. “The direct-to-consumer element combined with the way we make our shoes [in Italy] is critical for people to understand, to see the value. Plus, [Kayleigh] answers inquiries we typically get through customer service. This way, everyone gets to see the responses.”

M.Gemi drives to the live sessions, titled “The Monday Drop,” the same way it’s promoted its on-site releases: A clock counting down to the drop appears on the site on Friday mornings, plus dedicated emails and social posts advertising the time of the next episode are deployed in the days prior. Shoppers are encouraged to follow M.Gemi on Instagram for early access to new product.

“Our shoppers are responding to the opportunity to see things first,” Kaplan said, noting that styles often sell out and are never replenished.  

According to Alyssa Bronander, the content and marketing strategist who worked with M.Gemi on the Instagram Live strategy, providing a product exclusively on Instagram generates the feeling of scarcity traditional retailers have done with “in-store only” products of the past. “As Instagram has become the storefront of many brands today, it makes sense to foster the same feeling of exclusivity for followers that was once given to retail shoppers,” she said.

Though M.Gemi could not provide specific figures, it reported that since the first Instagram video debuted on April 9 — coinciding with the brand’s third anniversary — it has seen an 11 percent increase in new weekly followers on Instagram. (It currently has 105,000 followers.) On Mondays, its total Instagram engagement — which includes likes, video views and comments — has increased by 109 percent.

Those followers are valuable, said Bronander. “Once you have converted a prospect to a follower, you’ve created a longer tail of brand engagement; you’ve penetrated their social feed to remain top-of-mind for their next category purchase,” she said. “There is no brick-and-mortar equivalent, and while you can provide an email on-site, tapping the ‘follow’ button on Instagram is the lightest lift for a consumer.”

And it’s translated to sales: In the last month, traffic to the brand site on Mondays has been up 51 percent. The brand attributes a 20 percent boost in revenue in the same timeframe to new new process.


The premiere episode of M.Gemi’s Instagram Live series, “The Monday Drop”

The drop model — where limited-edition products are released outside of the traditional seasonal schedule — has been used by streetwear brands since the early ’90s. Emerging direct-to-consumer fashion companies have increasingly adopted the strategy to get an edge on established competitors. For M.Gemi, which exclusively releases product through Monday drops, it has proven successful: According to the company, its sales have increased 100 percent year-over-year since launch, and it has a $50 million run rate for the next 12 months.

Kaplan said M.Gemi has remained focused on building excitement by meeting customers where they’re spending their time. Outside of Instagram, that has included launching an East Coast tour by way or a mobile pop-up last summer.

Along with providing a way to “break through” on bustling Instagram, the videos have opened opportunities for collaborating with new partners: In mid-April, Rent the Runway’s head stylist joined Harrington in a Live session to talk through styling options for the new drops. The videos drove to the Rent the Runway site, where the completed looks were featured, and the clothing and shoes could be rented and purchased, respectively.

So far, the investment in the Live sessions has been minimal: The videos take place in the company’s headquarters and are shot by a staff member. The only expense has been the host, who is new to the payroll. However, M.Gemi is deep into plans for opening a photo studio in the near future.  

“We know from client research that they want to see how the shoes can be styled, how they move, what they look like from different angles on the foot,” Kaplan said. “So, video is a huge opportunity for us. Instagram Live is just the first step.”