?Joerg Zuber

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Virtual influencer Noonoouri wears the official Vogue t-shirt

ByNORA SYRJANEN

13 December 2019

A year on from her first Vogue cover, we spoke to her creator about how her personal brand is booming

Digital influencer Noonoouri defines herself as an activist, vegan and fur-free supporter. Today, she is wearing the official Vogue t-shirt, made from organic cotton.

This is not the first time Noonoouri has collaborated with Condé Nast; her representation in China as a model, is done exclusively by Vogue China and Vogue Me. Her first ever Vogue cover was launched nearly a year ago in February 2019, titled aptly “The Future Is Now”.

We spoke to Joerg Zuber, Noonoouri’s creator, about how she came about and the future of digital influencers.

Zuber is a huge fan of both Condé Nast and Vogue. Vogue was the first magazine he bought with his own money when he was just five years old. “From that world of beauty, lifestyle and culture, Noonoouri was implanted in my brain,” the Munich-based graphic designer reminisces. “Really, Vogue was, and still is, one of my bibles.”

Despite wanting to become a fashion designer, Zuber’s life took a different path, and he started his own design company, Opium Effect, instead. Fast-forward to eight years ago, the blog scene was at its peak, and Instagram was taking its first steps into becoming our most popular on-the-go visual diary. At the time, Zuber wasn’t impressed by the content that influencers were creating on the platform, as he didn’t think it was specific or focused enough. He started working on some initial sketches for a digital character based on his childhood dream doll. Noonoouri was soon created to fill what Zuber saw was “a gap in the market”.

“I always hold onto dreams, I think that’s one of my best attributes. A lot of it is also paired with discipline, passion and love towards what I do,” says Zuber.

Once the sketches had been finalised, the rigorous process of trying to find someone to invest in his avatar began. The search for the right investor, who wouldn’t try and change Noonoouri’s appearance, turned out to be an impossible task, and Zuber was forced to bring her alive himself.

Noonoouri entered Instagram nearly two years ago, during New York Fashion Week in February 2018.

Noonoouri currently employs a team of seven people working on her hair, makeup, styling, and positions.

The reaction to Noonoouri has been unprecedented. Today, she is recognised by designers, models and celebrities from Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior to Naomi Campbell and Kim Kardashian-West. Her follower count is currently at 334K, and the number grows everyday. She is represented by IMG Models and has (so far) been on the cover of two Condé Nast publications: Vogue Me and Glamour Brazil. What is her secret?

“I try to give people a different perspective, something they haven’t seen before,” comments Zuber. “I show the behind the scenes (of fashion shows), I show macros of the stitching techniques, and find out what is the unique proposition of the collection. I think this is a different point of view to many other influencers.”

The future of the influencer business has been called uncertain, as budgets shrink and the pool of talent grows ever more saturated. Zuber thinks that “natural selection” will occur amongst influencers, where only the best will be able to continue running their online personas as businesses. With virtual influencers, the workload is increased tenfold. It takes up to six weeks to create an animation of Noonoouri, and three days to create a still post. Noonoouri currently employs a team of seven people working on her hair, makeup, styling, and positions.

Vogue Me February 2019

Vogue Me February 2019

“Noonoouri raises her voice for children, animals, nature and feminism. (I do this) because when I was a kid, I had a lot of problems coping with pictures I saw of maltreated animals or starving kids. I always felt so helpless,” Zuber concludes. Together with Noonoouri, he supports organisations such as Fashion For Relief and WWF, among others. “When I see that Marc Jacobs or Kim Kardashian are watching Noonoouri’s (Instagram) Stories, I can be that little voice in the crowd talking about the problems of the world.” Having a voice, and also the ear of those with huge platforms of their own, is a powerful thing, and Zuber hopes that together they can educate their different audiences on these same issues.

The new decade will see Noonoouri continue to fight for the injustices of the world, as well as establishing herself as an authoritative voice in the fashion industry. Zuber will be attending the sixth Condé Nast Luxury Conference taking place in Vienna in April 2020, hosted by Suzy Menkes, Editor, Vogue International. Zuber is keen to explore what luxury means in a digital landscape, as it is typically considered to be something we can touch, taste and smell. Noonoouri is proof that luxury can live within the digital space, without any physical presence. Suzy Menkes herself has called Noonoouri “digital haute couture”. And what a perfect description that is.

Follow Noonoouri on Instagram @noonoouri Follow Joerg Zuber on Instagram @joergzuber To purchase an official Vogue t-shirt, click here To find out more information about the Condé Nast Luxury Conference, click here

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