Through The Lens: @TheArrivalsNYC

Welcome to our newest series Through The Lens, conversations with the creatives behind the most impressive brands’ Instagram feeds.

Few people need an introduction to The ARRIVALS, but for those who do, here’s a primer: two friends with an admitted “0 years fashion industry experience” built a dynamic young team and quietly launched a range of super-quality pieces with roomy shape and distinctive elegance, and then it blew up. It’s a proof point that bringing incredible clothing at a fair price works. The key is getting that message out.

Under the guidance of founder, creative director and trained architect Jeff Johnson, The ARRIVALS’ Instagram is something of an industry gold standard.

Here’s a fun game: pull any four consecutive photos out of context, and a whole worldview emerges. It’s a brand rooted in architecture, and maybe that product’s design began more like a blueprint than a clothing sketch. And the product itself just might turn you into someone with a bright outlook and a studied, somehow anti-fashion style. Try it—any four photos.

That’s due to Jeff, and his dogged commitment to communicating The ARRIVALS’ real emotional values everywhere a person might discover the brand. He seemed the only place to begin our new exploratory series: asking decisive creatives what choices they make to define and express a brand through Instagram. We asked, and he so kindly obliged.

We brought up seven aspects of what a marketer might call a social strategy. For Jeff, it’s more personal than that. We’ll let him explain.


Start Anywhere. It’ll Evolve.

When the brand launched, did you articulate a specific strategy for Instagram—an editorial plan—or did it evolve naturally?

Jeff: We started with a very unfiltered approach to our feed. When I look back at our early posts, I think we’ve come a long way, but it’s a valuable reference, not only for where we’re at, but where we started and the journey we’ve taken to arrive at the present perspective.

Keep Your Cultural Antennae Finely Tuned.

Tell us about the different approaches over time. Here’s week one. Here’s last year. Here’s a snapshot from last month.

Jeff: From the beginning, we’ve attempted to create a dynamic dialogue between form, function and individual expression. It’s fascinating to see snapshots from our feed in 2014 because it has evolved so much over the past two years. While our architectural foundations continue to shape our narrative, it’s refreshing to see how THE ARRIVALS visual expression is also highly influenced by cultural and social movements that speak to us as a creative team.

A post shared by Jeff Johnson (@jefffalo) on

Your Text Style Says A Lot. A-lot-a-lot.

Your personal Instagram has a visual style even in the way the type looks in your captions. How’d that start?

Jeff: As you might have noticed, we use a vertical bar at the start of every post. I started doing this as a way to differentiate the user handle, @THEARRIVALSNYC, and the caption and content. It always looked off to me that there was no visual break before the image caption. The vertical break is my way of breaking the continuity, serving as a clean pallet for whatever comment might take shape.

Don’t Be Afraid to Test Ideas.

No denying that Instagram is a powerful marketing tool. Considering there are no clickable links in captions, it’s pretty amazing. Do these sorts of posts “work”?

Jeff: I think Instagram serves as a real-time community lens for The Arrivals where we regularly test out ideas to see what resonates with our audience, whether that be art direction or tone of voice.

You Need Visual Consistency Across All Channels.

What is the value of continuity in a brand’s Instagram? Why is it important to define a visual style that becomes familiar?

Jeff: Having a clear direction is everything. Instagram is just another opportunity for a brand to express that continuity.

Show Your Customers Your Hero Products Repeatedly.
What product best captures the ethos of The Arrivals right now?

Jeff: The Rainier Zero is our newest women’s leather moto that succinctly captures our ethos, combining a graphic simplicity with the irreverent edge that is core to THE ARRIVALS spirit.

Your DMs Can Be a Goldmine.

What has surprised you about using Instagram, or or the way customers have responded?

Jeff: For us, Instagram is really about fostering our community and creating a platform of discovery and communication. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of in-person meetings, collaborations, and partnerships that start with a DM.


So, about that Rainier Zero moto jacket Jeff mentioned…get ready to start noticing it everywhere, if you haven’t already.