Meet the Insta-famous personal shopper you need to have on your speed dial
Looking for that in-demand Chanel or Bottega Veneta piece? Australian entrepreneur Gabriel Waller is on it.
Fashion is in the thick of a revolution. The explosive rise of Instagram has disrupted its traditional model of operation, transferring power to the everyday person who owns a smartphone and is savvy enough to craft an engaging online persona.
Influencers boasting large numbers of followers are now fashionʼs new gatekeepers, while top accounts such as @diet_prada and @esteelaundry have gone from relative obscurity to becoming the fashion and beauty industries' biggest whistle-blowers.
With one billion active users logged on to Instagram every month, the social media giant offers a myriad of possibilities. One person who has reaped the benefits of its unprecedented reach is Gabriel Waller. A personal shopper based in Sydney, Australia, the 25-year-old was already proving her worth at sourcing for high demand or sold out items when English actress-model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley enlisted her help to source for a Celine coat. Pleased with Wallerʼs efforts at successfully locating a piece, the famous English actress-model showed off her latest purchase on Instagram with Waller mentioned in it.
In that split second, Wallerʼs name went viral. Her phone lit up with client requests from all corners of the globe – a testament of Instagramʼs might. “Itʼs all down to the digital revolution that weʼre living in today. It has the ability to transform businesses overnight,” she told CNA Luxury about that pivotal moment that opened more doors for her. “That is huge.”
Never one to blend into the crowd, a career in fashion has always been in the cards for Waller. “Growing up in a small town here in Australia, I have always put a lot of focus on being unique,” she recalled. Waller flew thousands of miles to Los Angeles and enrolled herself in a fashion buying course. In 2016, while dipping her toes into the world of personal shopping, Waller saw an increased demand for pieces that were not available in the Australian market. Armed with valuable contacts she made in America, Waller returned to Sydney and launched her business two years later.
Even when she was setting up the framework for her brand, Wallerʼs penchant for taking the path less travelled never left her. “I never had the desire to follow, I wanted to move in my own lane,” Waller added. That desire to do things differently also explains why sheʼs always drawn to brands that are stepping outside of the box and blazing their own trails. On designers sheʼs keeping tabs on, Waller said: “The incredible designs of Rokh, Peter Do and Bevza are all on my radar currently. But in terms of brands that are creating quite the revival throughout social media, you can’t look past Bottega Veneta.” Waller lists the Pouch – a handy clutch created by the Italian marqueʼs new Creative Director Daniel Lee – as a hot favourite.
Wallerʼs hunt for Huntington-Whiteleyʼs Celine coat may have been a career highlight, but if thereʼs another moment that has left an impression on Waller, it was when she travelled to Paris for the launch of Chanelʼs blockbuster spring/summer 2019 collection. “It was unlike anything I have experienced before. I knew that this particular collection would explode globally,” she recalls. The collection – Karl Lagerfeldʼs last for the Parisian fashion powerhouse before his passing – featured clothes that offered a tantalising glimpse of a sun-soaked summer. A crisp cropped shirt modelled by Kaia Gerber on the runway was an instant hit. “Iʼve never worked so hard and fast to get as many of those pieces that I did,” Waller said. “It was mind-blowing.”
A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
Fashion is an act of self-expression; the clothes we throw on our backs communicate our identities. In Wallerʼs case, knowing when to put her preferences aside and step into the shoes of her clients has become an essential part of her job. Itʼs a fine balance, but Waller conceded that is what makes her job exciting and fulfilling: “Each sourcing request can be completely different. I can be searching for a vintage Chanel piece one moment and looking for a new season Bottega Veneta dress the next. It keeps me on my toes, knowing that each day I’m dealing with the unexpected and that little hint of mystery.”
Trust is a vital component in the relationship between personal shopper and client. But for those whoʼre looking to engage the services of one, Waller has this advice to share: “Make sure that who you are working with cares for you and your needs. No matter what, I always strive to put the ‘personal’ in personal shopping. I want to connect with my clients on a personal level, I want to know what is going on in their lives, and that is because I genuinely care.”
Ultimately, Wallerʼs services go beyond providing mere convenience. In this digital age we live in where everything happens at a breakneck speed, time has become the greatest luxury of all. “Time is – and will be – one of our most valuable assets as we move into the future, and that is something I can give to my clients by doing what I do,” she said.