Historically, the fashion world has rarely been coupled with comedy. Most designers, editors, and critics who work in this imaginative industry have long looked at their creative feats only as a serious matter—one that has the power to influence cultural shifts, and transform people’s lives across the globe. But social media’s surge in power has changed the way in which the world consumes fashion, giving just about anyone access to even the most intimate areas of the once-private field. So, does the Internet allow this elitist and stern world to make space for humour? Digital creative Freddie Smithson says “yes.”
The 26-year-old is best known for the comedic fashion memes he creates and shares through his Instagram handle @freddiemade. Here, users can find everything from photoshopped images of the Royals wearing Kappa track suits to U.S. President Donald Trump rocking a pair of Off-White stiletto boots.
Boasting over 80,000 followers (and counting), Smithson credits his large following to an ability to make fashion relatable to the average person. “There’s often a barrier between the fashion world and those wanting to be a part of it,” he says. “Memes were just a natural progression from what I was already doing—a bit of an inside joke that more people could enjoy.”
Smithson was first inspired to create a platform to close the gap when he started working for U.K. fashion label House of Holland in 2014, after Henry Holland, creator of the brand, joked that none of his social media staff actually had a significant following online. “At that point I challenged myself to change that,” Smithson admits,“and be more strategic with what I was posting.”
As fate would have it, it was around that time that Instagram started taking off as a game-changing social media platform. “I’ve always been creating [art]work in some form or another,” he recalls, and Instagram’s explosive growth made the app a perfect space to get more eyes on his amusing creations. But while his primary goal was intially to focus on those outside of the fashion world, his memes—heavily inspired by celebrities, pop culture, and Queen Elizabeth, who he calls “iconic”—have caught the eyes of several high rollers, including superstar Rihanna. “Rihanna [reposted] three of my Queen images in a row,” the Internet star remembers. “The press coverage that simple work gained was staggering and went on for about a week afterwards.”
Now that Smithson has a growing audience and averages thousands of “likes” per post, he’s also using his platform to mix fashion with not only comedy, but politics as well—a decision that he says has been met with mixed reviews from Internet users. “[It] began after the questionable decision-making of the last few years—Brexit and Trump, mostly,” he explains. “I’m sometimes met with backlash, but you’re always going to be when putting a strong opinion so publicly online.”