The North Carolina native behind Commandments of Style shares what’s it’s like to build a social sphere of influence.
As told to Ayn-Monique Klahre
Instagram influencer Matthew Coppedge wasn’t always a model: In fact, the Fayettevile-born UNC grad was not particularly stylish as a kid, despite his desire to become a model. Fast-forward to his 40s, and in just over three years he’s grown his Instagram persona, Commandments of Style, to more than 35,000 followers through a mix of his signature stylish suits and silver fox looks. We hopped on the phone with him to learn what it’s like to be the face of brands like Brooks Brothers, Ford Motors and more.
I understand that you weren’t always an influencer. How’d you get on this track?
After college and graduate school I worked in marketing and communications, doing a lot of work around the revitalization of downtown Durham. It involved a lot of PR and public speaking. About three and a half years ago, my friends urged me to start a style-focused Instagram account. I’d seen other guys doing things like that, and I’d always had an interest in modeling, in fact I didn’t even try modeling until I was 36 years old. I started with photos of shoes on the floor, those kinds of things, then more casual looks. But I found that the three-piece suits got more likes than the others, and it turns out that my grey hair and youngish face work well in the luxury market.
How did it turn into an actual job?
Originally, a few brands reached out to send me free socks or ties or whatever, and it grew from there. As my following grew, bigger brands started to reach out. Now if I think a brand is cool, I’ll put together a proposal and send it to them—these days it’s about half and half pitching or getting requests. I still do marketing consulting and personal branding as well, but brands are happy to work with someone who’s a one-stop-shop for content creation that they can use in their marketing.
What’s the most fun campaign you’ve done?
My favorite campaigns are always the one where I can express my style. Last year I went to Italy and I took my mom, and that was fun. It wasn’t for a brand, but I loved those shots. I’m about to do a campaign with Brooks Brothers and Ford, which I’m excited about because I love cars and fashion.
Does your mom take all the photos?
She is one of my main photographers! My mom and my girlfriend and my brother are all great photographers. Generally I can go on a trip and take somebody close to me along, and create the great content that has helped to grow my Instagram account over the past few years.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to become an Instagram influencer?
I would say that focus is key. I mean, it’s key for any business, but you have to figure out what it is that people are interested in and find your niche. I found my followers are interested in three piece suits, so generally I wouldn’t partner up on more casual items, like t-shirts or sneakers sponsorships. And then it’s about engaging with your audience, and commenting on other people and liking their photos, and networking through social media and events. Honestly, everybody is really helpful, and other influencers are usually willing to help, especially when you meet them in person.