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The Digital Collectors: The Rebrand of the Anorak

Ollie Irwin

Friday 26 February 2021

Step aside coin connoisseurs and stamp fanatics, there’s a new generation of contemporary collectors in town and they’re using social media to engage with legions of like-minded individuals. Platforms like Instagram are turning a private pastime public, and what was once shunned as uncool now generates considerable cultural kudos.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite collectors to investigate why these accounts are resonating with fans and how brands can take advantage of the unique opportunities presented by this growing group of influencers…

Gary Aspden – Adidas Spezial

A foremost authority on all things Trefoil, Gary Aspden’s encyclopedic knowledge of Adidas, combined with his social media presence has positioned him as the unofficial European face of the brand in recent years. Undertaking celebrity marketing roles in the 90s to becoming the chief curator of the highly collectable Spezial line, his career trajectory has been impressive, but what makes him such an authoritative voice in the sneaker community?

From the hallowed dancefloor of the Hacienda to the football terraces of the North West, his position of authority can be attributed to his wider understanding of the culture that’s shaped the brand’s cult-like status, particularly in the North of England (Robert Brooksy’s our man down south).

Most importantly, it’s his foremost position as a fan which allows him to authentically communicate with a particular segmentation of the Adidas fanbase, notorious for their unforgiving views regarding the hype-driven state of sneaker culture of 2021. Canal Street isn’t Carnaby Street, and it’s essential to understand how to adapt your output to suit different segmentations of your audience both geographically and culturally. What Adidas have done masterfully is place an individual in a position of power who can explore the fringe elements of sneaker culture that doesn’t centre exclusively around drop culture. Heritage brands take note.

David Silver – Vintage Watch Company

He’s an author, collector and director of the prestigious Vintage Watch Company, a specialist Rolex store based in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade. As a young man David Silver cut his teeth as an assistant at Paul Smith, a placement he believes helped him refine his keen eye for detail and understanding of the importance of customer relations. When he made the decision to join his father at their family store his modest goal was to amass the largest collection of vintage Rolexes on the planet, something they later achieved.

The world of vintage watches, much like that of all antiques, is particularly slow at adopting modern technology and the success of the Vintage Watch Company can be attributed in part to David’s willingness to harness the power of social media to educate followers about the beauty of the Rolex brand. Notably, this also demonstrates the opportunities presented to brands who utilise the power of influencers with authority in the second hand market. The information audiences learn from experts such as David will often inform their future purchasing decisions, even when buying directly from brands themselves. This is particularly true of those specialising in luxury products.

RJ Abarth – Abarth Club North East

Cars, unlike any other consumer product, provoke feelings of immense loyalty among casual aficionados, collectors and superfans alike. Dedication to brands can often border on cult-like obsession, with collectors building an entire lifestyle around a particular manufacturer.

The term ‘car collector’ often evokes a stereotype of an affluent individual with an interest in predominantly vintage models (hello Jamiroquai), but thanks to the democratising nature of social media we’re witnessing a new generation of collectors coming to the forefront. Based in the North East, RJ Abarth is the ultimate example of this. What started as an interest in the Italian brand is now a full-time occupation, with him acting as the President of the Abarth Club North East. Unlike cheaper consumer goods, the cost of this type of product means influencers often focus on one model, in doing so providing car brands gifting and short-term let opportunities that will allow them to fully explore the technical capabilities of new product lines.

Specialist print publications which cater to car collectors are continuing to diminish in circulation and utilising this type of influencer will help brands connect with a similar audience in a digital capacity.

As we continue into 2021, brand-specific collector accounts will continue to appear, with new influencers rising to prominence in the most niche product categories. In many ways these loyalists and their platforms offer brands the same opportunities as editorial features of the past and should be treated with the same reverence. Integrate the expert voices of these new gen influencers into your brand discourse and reap the rewards!

Want to learn more about how our team used collector influencers as part of a recent project with jewellery brand Pandora? Drop us a line!