We take a closer look at how the blogging industry is defining style in its own terms. Read on for an answer to this with our conversation with India’s most loved male influencer and fashion icon in India, Sandeep Rai.
1. Hi Sandeep, tell us about how it all started and how your journey has been till now ?
My journey started as a fragrance collector/blogger back in 2013-14 when the niche fragrances scene was very closed in India. I started collecting niche/artisanal fragrances from all around the world. Initially, I used to review them and slowly my reviews started to pick up and I was getting featured on a lot of perfume websites. I was into photography since I was a kid so that came in handy and in 2016-17, I founded my own blog basicallymenz.com. During that period I was writing for a lot of magazines about grooming and fragrances. Fashion came pretty late and most of my knowledge about it came from my dad, reading blogs and watching YouTube. Later when I discovered Instagram my website transitioned into it. Having a background in photography helped me creating visual content that was Insta aspiring, I was very late in the game hence I quickly figured out that to make a mark in this industry I had to do something different. Combining content that is at par globally with a little bit of product knowledge helped me get noticed by brands. Before I knew it, I was collaborating with all my dream brands. But, the core values still remain the same to this day. I am still aspiring to create the highest quality of content possible and constantly trying to innovate with new hobbies. The recent addition to it is that I started working with a lot of spirit brands. I see that this industry has a lot of untapped potentials. We have worked with major spirit brands, bars, and bartenders and I am excited to see where it leads.
2. A change you’ve seen in the digital blogging space since you started out your journey? How has this space evolved for men as well?
The blogging space has changed a lot, new avenues have opened up, there is an audience for every segment. A lot of new platforms have surfaced and they are all unique in their own way. The creators are not limited or restricted to the kind of content they create. Earlier the hurdles were regarding initial investment to start a blog but now you can literally create an Instagram account and start creating content from home. You are no longer dependent on publishers or sponsors to create the kind of content you believe in. Recently the boom of Clubhouse which is an audio-based app and considered by many as the next big thing has provided a new fresh way to create and consume content. Talking about the space for men and how it has evolved, I can say that it has come a long way. When I started my journey there were men bloggers in our country but still, the notable names were only a few. Since then a lot of talented content creators have emerged. In an industry that is still female-dominated, we can now see men have also started to rise in numbers. Many who earlier considered this as a hobby or a side hustle are actually taking it up as a full-time job and treating it like a legit business. Many brands have started to come around and collaborate with influencers and bloggers. They have started seeing the value in working with us. There is still no notable name in our country who has made it big globally in this segment so I think it still has a long way to go.
3. Tell us about the moment when you felt that this is it; people have started liking you and are getting inspired by your work?
I did a little series on Delhi, where we tried to show the hidden gems of Delhi with an element of fashion, some of the posts from that series got viral. The feedback I got was really positive and I think that gave me some visibility and confidence. A lot of people I met after that knew me as the guy from the Delhi series. Slowly that changed once I started doing a lot of sartorial fashion and I started getting a lot of attention for that. I regularly get DMs about how my page has inspired them to start something of their own which is extremely satisfying.
4. Can you give us an insight into social media platforms that only an Influencer can know?
Generally, the social media platforms are very democratic everyone has a similar kind of access but the way we see things in it are different you always have to be on your toes to catch trends and read insights to constantly know what your audience relates to and then amalgamate it with your creativity to create the end product. A lot of things are seen from a business perspective too.
5. Having a large fan following and being a public figure, what kind of responsibilities do you have & how do you make use of this fame as a fashion icon in India?
I think it is the responsibility of every creator to treat their audience with respect and treat situations with an unbiased view. Try and promote positivity. A lot of people try and jump on trends and sensitive issues with a motive to gain out of it at the expense of promoting negativity that makes the whole experience very toxic. It is very easy to feel full of air because social media provides you a lot of instant gratification but the trick is to not take it for granted. There is social responsibility when you have a big audience to treat situations with sensitivity and not make the environment extremely political.
6. The world has changed with the pandemic and everyone has accepted the new normal. What is the new approach/idea to keep moving in the new age of digital media?
Pandemic has sped the influx of digital media but we cannot deny that the digital storm was taking place anyway. More and more things are moving to digital platforms, social media influencers are the new age celebs now. With it, a lot of business opportunities are coming their way. The industry is still settling to this new norm but the new approach is something that everyone is still trying to figure out. In my view being conscious about the content you create and consume is the way to go forward. “Patience is the key in the age of trends”.
7. What do you do to make your content unique from others as a influencer and fashion icon in India?
I think it is quite different from many creators in my niche since I never give in to trends. You will never see me doing a “5 Date night outfits” or “Sneeze Challenge” type of content because I am terrible at those. Kudos to the people who can do it, I actually envy them. So, I think staying true and being myself reflects in my content. Other than that, I never compromise with the quality and production of my content. People follow me to see “my kind of content” and I never take it for granted.