5 ways to build a brand that’s not fake or forced with Luke Meagher

It’s not a requirement to be well versed in fashion to enjoy fashion critic and content creator Luke Leagher’s videos — in fact, in some ways, he hopes you aren’t.

“I think my audience is anybody that's interested in creativity, people that are just interested in culture in general. A lot of the content I make is for people to really learn what’s going on behind the scenes, so they don’t feel that fashion is frivolous or stupid or dumb.”

-Luke Meagher

Meagher’s videos, which he’s always shared under the handle HauteLeMode, combine current season fashion critiques with quick bursts of fashion history, referencing past collections with a breezy confidence that doesn't feel self-taught (though it becomes all the more impressive when you realize that’s exactly what he is). “I'm from Staten Island, but I went to high school in Manhattan,” he says. “I really got into fashion around age 14 or 15, taking pictures of people on the street and seeing interesting things. That was where the spark really began.

That spark has only ignited with what started as a street style blog, evolving today into longer form video content across YouTube and social media, where Meagher is now able to discuss and give his opinion on the most viral red carpet moments to his hundreds of thousands of dedicated followers. His tone is witty and measured, injecting both humor and history, helping him to stand out in the overly saturated fashion landscape. We spoke to Meagher about what makes his brand feel so true to him, and his best advice for achieving the same level of authenticity in your own content.

1. If you can’t find it, create it

The first iteration of HauteLeMode was born from Meagher’s own desire to learn more about fashion. “I couldn't find fashion content that actually explained what I was looking for in terms of history or understanding the craft,” he remembers. “I think the saying is, ‘Be the content you want to see in the world’, which has worked well, because as I've learned, the audience has also learned.”

I have been making my own thumbnails for YouTube for years, and over time have learned through both tutorials and tips from friends how to really refine my skills in Adobe Photoshop. And when it comes to editing content for socials, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe InDesign have also helped to come in handy when reporting fashion news or showing exclusive photos. And I mean where would I and my team be without Adobe Premiere Pro?

2. Do your research so you can really know your stuff

Without his knowledge of fashion history to back up his arguments, many of Meagher’s videos would feel overly snarky and critical — something that plagued earlier iterations of red carpet fashion coverage. By adding short history lessons and tracing designers’ processes from runway to red carpet, Meagher gives context in order to explain certain fashion decisions even while criticizing them.

“I’m definitely not the age-old idea of a fashion critic. I think I’m much more of a jack-of-all-trades, and there's a little bit of a historian in there,” Meagher says. “You need that history to be able to accurately critique things, and you also need to be able to get people interested in it to begin with. Why would people care about boring old dresses if you can't tell a story, or make a little jab here and there to really get people excited, or to celebrate people so that it doesn't always feel like it's super negative?”

3. Be critical, but never be mean

“Early on, I was very, very critical and negative, and everything was reactionary,” Meagher remembers. “At the time that I'd started, around 2015 or 2016, that was what was popular.” He’s since moved away from that type of tone, opting instead for truthful, honest criticism (and the occasional witty jab).

“As time has gone on, it really depends on what’s in front of me,” he explains. “If there’s a fashion show where you expect the designer to put out something amazing, and then it's not great, how do I accurately wrap all of that into something that is both constructive and also makes sure that people really understand what is being said behind the scenes in fashion?”

4. Look for teaching moments

Meagher’s content is often loaded with fashion history and references to complex industry jargon, and while he wants his videos to act as a starting point, he also hopes that it sparks an interest for viewers to research even more on their own. “It’s really about trying to understand the audience that you're talking to, and injecting little things that will teach them something along the way,” Meagher says. “Maybe if they don't even understand the words that I'm saying, at least they heard the word that's a historical reference, or a collection date and season.”

5. At the end of the day, a sense of humor goes a long way.

“Prior to [creating HauteLeMode], I was pretty schlubby”, Meagher laughs. “I still am, but even more so then, because I didn’t have any understanding or know-how.” It’s this balance that makes Meagher so endearing to so many: he’s able to dish out critique, but he’s also able to take it — even from himself.

Luke’s critique on Adobe x Christian Cowan Dress Powered by Primrose Technology

During New York Fashion Week, Meagher sat front row for designer Christian Cowan’s show, where the Adobe x Christian Cowan Dress Powered by Primrose Technology was unveiled, being one of the first to see the groundbreaking dress in person. Using laser-cut polymer dispersed liquid crystal “petals” over a flexible printed circuit board, the dress’s petals are able to alternate and shift between shades of silver and ivory and change patterns multiple times per second.

“...seeing the Adobe Primrose technology work, I was like, I can't believe that I'm watching a dress light up. It really is so well-designed, well thought-through.”

-Luke Meagher

“I had an amazing time getting to see the dress” Meagher says. “Just to see the excitement and all of the work that's really gone into it was very, very cool.”

The dress is an incredible feat of technology that represents what many consider the future of fashion. “Fashion, to me, really goes hand in hand with textile development,” Meagher muses. “I think the evolution not only of fashion, but the evolution of human history — the Silk Road and things like that — has always been about textiles. So seeing the Adobe Primrose technology work, I was like, I can't believe that I'm watching a dress light up.

This article was originally featured in the Adobe Blog at the following URL: 5 ways to build a brand that’s not fake or forced with Luke Meagher | Adobe Blog

Leave your thoughts below to get the conversation started!