How Twin Social Media Stars Successfully Sold Out a Brand Launch Capsule Collection during a Pandemic
Social media stars Shannon and Shannade Clermont, otherwise known as the Clermont Twins, first rose to fame with appearances on Oxygen’s reality television series Bad Girls Clubin 2015. Since then, they’ve become hugely successful Instagram models with 1.5 million followers, and started their own luxury womenswear brand Mont Boudoir in 2017. An edgy aesthetic tinged with danger heralds the entrance to the brand’s website – with rottweilers snapping like the heads of Cerberus, the mythical monster with three giant dog heads who guarded the entrance to the underworld in Greek mythology.
June 12th marked the launch of Mont Boudoir’s “Money” shades: branded double-layer black acetate wrap-around sunglasses that retail for $295… and sold out in less than 15 minutes. How did they pull off such a feat during a Pandemic, you might ask?
The Clemont Twins did it all themselves without managers, publicists, or agents through an admixture of titillating techno-futurist photography, cross-marketing via cameo appearances by other social media superstars, and an elaborate countdown that built up feverish demand through social media platforms. With degrees from Parsons and FIT respectively, Shannade and Shannon have mastered the science of supply and demand. They know what their audience wants and how to deliver it, successfully carving out a niche for themselves and providing other young entrepreneurs with a DIY template for how to create their own luxury brands.
A picture speaks a thousand words, as do the marketing visuals that the Clermont Twins have created to get their customers worked up into a frenzy. They began with a few teaser photos of themselves wearing the Money shades, followed by a marketing campaign lensed by Sam Massey depicting the twins as sexy science-fiction superheroes stranded on a desert planet.
The initial teaser images were swiftly followed by a 14-day countdown, interspersed with photography of the twins and other models looking fetch in the shades as well. There were also proclamations that the sunglasses will not be restocked…an effective way to make people want what they can’t yet have, and might not be able to get (unless they are the lucky “early birds” who get the proverbial “worm”).
When anti-racism protests spread across the globe sparked by the unjust and senseless murder of George Floyd, the Clermont Twins postponed the launch; they also released a personal statement addressing what was happening from their perspective as black women and entrepreneurs.
After their Instagram channels went dark for a week, the brand released a series of images featuring the “Money” Shades on Nikita Dragun and Tommie Lee (with 7.1 M followers and 4.4 M followers respectively) and announced a revised launch date. For those who aren’t in the know: Tommie Lee is one of the main cast members on season six of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta’, and Nikita Dragun is a transgender YouTube phenomenon with her own make-up line Dragun Beauty. Their Instagram followers combined add up to an impressive fanbase of well over 10 million, casting a wide net of caché for Mont Boudoir’s new shades.
Significantly, both Nikita Dragun and Tommie Lee share with the Clermont Twins a savvy and self-empowering marketing strategy that involves a form of self-objectification. Rather than using their youth and beauty to make other people rich and famous, they have taken ownership of their sexuality, and have cleverly crafted overtly sexualized personas. Through this method, they have successfully manifested fame and fortune.
The Clermont Twins started with this approach, and took this provocative aesthetic into the stratosphere by using their sex appeal to market commodities produced by their own brand, for which they have complete financial and creative control. Furthermore, the Clermont Twins’ marketing techniques create a fascinating intersection between hip-hop and LGBTQIA+ subcultures, embracing elements that at first glance might seem controversial but upon further inspection are mindfully intentional and wholly unique.
The day the “Money” Shades finally launched, the Clermont Twins released an addendum to the original ad campaign, with photos exploring a futuristic samurai theme. The samurai swords capped off a marathon social media campaign featuring other symbols of wealth and power, such as luxury sports cars, swimming pools, and the previously mentioned guard dogs. At the last moments before the launch, the twins unsheathed their swords as if primed and ready for battle.
Sadly for many fans, the window of time to purchase the coveted shades was mercilessly brief. Within a half-hour of the launch’s release, Mont Boudoir posted an announcement that the sunglasses had sold out. This was followed by a photo of the twins putting their swords back into the sheaths.
Aside from this well-conceived and flawlessly executed marketing campaign, Mont Boudoir is noteworthy for its aesthetic – which combines technically sophisticated 3-D renderings with elements of danger, and provocative sexuality. State-of-the-art simulations of the sunglasses prototype, a rotating black globe, HTML-code-like typography, and barking dogs combine feelings of foreboding and desire into an enticingly irresistible package.
The Clermont Twins’ intuition and depth of knowledge about the desires of their customer base has their followers waiting breathlessly for the next release. Though it is unclear to an outside observer how many glasses were sold, it is clear that the Clermont Twins are master storytellers, and brilliant strategists who understand the intricacies of supply and demand. With a one-of-a-kind visual aesthetic that is complex and subversive, they know what their followers want and how to deliver it… and other start-up fashion brands would be wise to watch and learn.
Mont Boudoir Co-Founders and Creative Directors | Shannon and Shannade Clermont Photographer | Sam Massey Talent | Nikita Dragun and Tommie Lee