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How Melbourne influencer Maxine Wylde is bringing authenticity back to Instagram

IMAGES VIA MAXINE WYLDE

Words by Christina Karras

“People are letting go a little bit.”

Just over a decade ago, Instagram (and the now-legitimised job title of being an influencer) didn’t even exist as a concept. Fast-forward to today and it’s almost hard to remember a time before I woke up and scrolled through the app.

Since Instagram launched in 2010, it’s become a digital playground for creativity, fashion, makeup and art, and a springboard for countless successful internet personalities. Influencers are now a dime a dozen.


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But somewhere amid my own endless and obsessive scrolling, I found Melbourne content creator, Maxine Wylde. The explosion of colour, editorial-level styling and sense of authenticity on her page offered something inimitable – particularly when so often influencer’s carefully curated photos seem to blend into one. In some cases literally: see @shitbloggerspost.

The 24-year-old says she’s experienced “rapid growth” since she started her fashion and style Instagram back in 2019, after trying her hand at running an art studio account off the back of a Bachelor of Interior Design.

“I used to paint and create my own artworks and style them for shoots. Eventually, I was contacted by jewellery and skincare brands to style their products,” Maxine tells me over the phone.

“I’d always loved fashion so I eventually decided to start @___mmaxinewylde for my styling ventures. After being so inspired on a trip to America I just hit the ground running posting outfits, and it sort of just took off. From 2019 until now it’s just been a crazy whirlwind of outfits and colourful posts.”

She wears everything from high-end euro brands like Marine Serre and Gucci, cult favourites like House of Sunny, and household names like Zara, but makes a pointed effort to champion local Australian brands in the realm of E Nolan and Dyspnea. Complemented by equally vibrant interior and inspo pictures, her feed is best described as a mixed bag of lollies. There’s something for everyone.

“I think I started as a neutral account, believe it or not,” she jokes.

 

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Now at 200,000 followers, working full-time as a content creator with representation at one of Australia’s biggest agencies, Maxconnectors, Maxine says every day is a “pinch me” moment.

“When I get to work with brands I’ve been obsessed with my whole life, and to get a message in my inbox from them saying we’d love for you to wear our clothes or our bag, I’m so grateful,” she says.

Her recent collaborations include work for Alexander McQueen, and eCommerce fashion giants like Shopbop and Revolve.

“I never expected it to grow the way it has, it was always just for fun,” she says. “My sister and I laugh because we used to joke about it. I said to her, ‘you take cool photos, I like dressing like a weirdo, let’s just do it.’”

She says her IG shots are still a family affair, roping in her sister, boyfriend and younger brother to help her with her content. “It’s a team effort. I’ve trained them all.”

HBO’s new documentary ‘Fake Famous’ which explores Instagram culture and the allure of influence-based fame shared a statistic that floored me. According to journalist Nick Bilton, 40 million users on the app boast more than 1 million followers. That’s your Kardashians, famous sports players, celebrities and any influencers who have found a global following. But by local standards, Maxine’s account is beloved and renowned.

“Sometimes I look at my number like 174k like ‘eh 174, that’s not that much’,” she says.

“But then I think of that in terms of like ‘okay the MCG holds about 100,000 and I have nearly two of those!’ Then I think ‘what the hell! Why are you all here, what are you doing following me?’” Maxine laughs. (Her follower count had jumped massively during the mere fortnight after we spoke and the day this article went live.)

She says she had always been that friend who “dressed a little differently,” and has previously told her followers that yes, she actually wears the outlandish and impressive looks she puts together for photos. Even her boyfriend attests to her profile being a genuine reflection of her “dorky” personality. But it reinforces the idea that her Instagram – while still curated – isn’t just for show.

“I remember wearing this vintage Coogi jumper and flare jeans to a casual dress day in year 11 and everyone was like ‘what is that outfit?’ I was like, you guys just wait,” she says.

When it comes to where she looks for inspiration, she immediately pulls up her saved folder on Instagram to give me an accurate account. It’s a melting pot of international Vogue magazines, other fashion accounts like @alyssainthecity, Scandi interior brand Gustaf Westman and another Melbourne creative, florist Hattie Malloy.

“This saved folder is just a plethora of colour and random things. It literally goes mushrooms, colourful boots, street style… Gordon Ramsay?” and we both burst out laughing.

“I love him. I never thought I would, but in lockdown I binged some of his cooking shows. I love cooking and his recipes are so easy to follow,” she justifies.

 

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I ask her if she thinks originality is underrated on Instagram, and she agrees.

“I think it is really important,” Maxine says. “I did go through a really rapid growth period at the start of last year where I went from about 20k to 100k in a matter of two or three months and I could not comprehend it.”

“I get a lot of messages asking ‘how did you do it, did you buy your followers?’ And honestly, I think I just stopped worrying about what other people were posting or what feed aesthetic I wanted. I just posted what I loved and my own genuine style, and I think that’s what made me grow.”

“That’s what sets people apart these days, because there are so many accounts – and I love them, they are so beautiful to look at – but I think they can be all about creating that image.”

But Maxine predicts that alongside the trends of bright boots and more patterned clothing, we might see more authentic content floating around the app this year. “People are letting go a little bit,” she’s noticed.

We’ve already seen a new posting format, the more effortless “photo dump” carousel, become commonplace. Perhaps the pandemic’s brutal reality check and the reminder that life is short will alter the kind of content we chose to consume, chasing something more real and fun than the cold, street style aesthetic made famous by Instagram’s original bloggers years ago.

“In this day and age, I think that’s what we want – we want to feel connected to something,” Maxine affirms. “We have well and truly emerged from the whole minimal era and I feel like colour is going to be huge this year. Well, for me anyway.”

Check out Maxine’s candy-coloured account here.

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