Olivier Rousteing Talks Industry Racism & Instagram In ‘Out’

Olivier Rousteing for Out magazine The May 2015 issue of 'Out' magazine. Photo: Pierre et Gilles

At the tender age of 29, Olivier Rousteing has it all. Or at least that’s what we think judging by his Instagram account. The Creative Director for the French fashion house Balmain, is as social media savvy as they come. With a slew of mega-famous friends such as Rihanna, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, the designer has not only been able to make Balmain the first French label to surpass a million followers on Instagram, but its popularity among celebrities and in the general zeitgeist has also made Rousteing famous in his own right.

Featuring on the cover of this month’s Out Magazine, the designer opens up about various subjects and racism within the industry, is just one of them. 

“People were like, ‘Oh my God, he’s a minority taking over a French house,'” Rousteing told the magazine about the rumblings he heard when he took over at Balmain in 2011. “For me, I’m just French. Yeah, I’m black, but go out into the street — there’s black, white, Chinese, Arab…” He also says that he feels somewhat responsible for making a change, saying, “People post on my Instagram that they are so happy to see black boys and black girls. I’m happy that they see it and don’t think that fashion belongs to white people.”

olivier rousteing
Olivier Rousteing. Image courtesy of Instagram

Since his appointment in 2011, the brand’s menswear has grown to account for 40% of the label’s total revenue, and next season will see the brand’s first men’s runway show (as opposed to a by-appointment presentation).

Speaking of Instagram, Rousteing says that staying connected to the world and to his fans is one of the most important aspects of his job, and that the comments are often more influential and meaningful to him than what critics say about his collections. That being said, he does employ a certain strategy when it comes to his personal posts:

Instagram is selling a dream … Instagram is my perfect life, and I suck my cheeks in. Of course, I cry and have family or personal problems and am heartbroken, but I don’t need to show that. It makes your life look cooler than it is. My job is to give a happy message about the brand to interest people.

Read the full article on Out magazine and pick up a copy from newsstands today.