A recent white paper on the state of social media in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) by Damian Radcliffe and Amanda Lam at the University of Oregon found that 10% of global Instagram users come from this region, with numbers growing quickly. However, this high rate of Instagram usage may mean that for niche luxury brands, spending money on this app needs to be done smartly, as it could be wastage too.

This is something Dubai-based label Montroi understands, and their website is known to be a place that wanderlusters can turn to for travel guides. Founded by Enrique Hormigo and Samir Aghera, Montroi celebrates the nomadic life and has a clean yet multicultural aesthetic. Best known for handcrafted leather goods, perfumes and accessories, Montroi works closely with local artists and can personalize everything from a luggage tag to a trunk. Its bags are made in Italy, the rosewater is from Oman and perfumes are made in Grasse, France. So, the idea of having a travel journal sits well within their website. Says Aghera: “There is no one formula that fits everybody when it comes to social media. The whole idea is to understand its purpose and if it can help the brand on its journey.” Last year they were on-boarded by Mr. Porter and Ounass, and that is what made them realize they needed to up the selling experience on their website. 

“There is no one formula that fits everybody when it comes to social media.”

Montroi’s updated website was launched, coincidentally, just a few weeks after Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta launched its digital journal, Issued by Bottega. At the start of this year, the luxury fashion house decided to delete its Instagram account – and everyone wondered what was next for one of fashion’s most sought-after labels. While the Montroi duo would not suggest for a Middle Eastern brand to leave Instagram, they do say that social media needs to be about more than having a strong Instagram footprint or an e-commerce platform. “It is interesting to see how Bottega Veneta transforms its social media platforms as a journal of Daniel Lee’s (the brand’s creative director) journey,” says Hormigo. Our case is a bit specific, as we don’t showcase the work of a specific designer. Our story is a story of craftsmanship across the modern Silk Route.” Montroi works with more than 20 workshops between Jaipur, Oman and Marrakech, and so their journal centers around journeying to these places.

Storytelling has never been more important for brands than now. Montroi, which recently opened a store in the luxury wing at the Mall of the Emirates, have never spent money on advertising and instead invest in premium retail space, pop-ups and content for their own media landscape. It’s all about building a community, and this is where content fits in. They have now made their travel guides format easier to navigate and to download. As Hormigo says, “We are not here as a brand to sell products. We sell products as a result of people engaging with our story and willing to be part of it. We aim to preserve craftsmanship for generations to come, and this is something that we could never do without having a community around.” The founders of Montroi encourage homegrown brands to carve out their own social media path, one that works for their vision and mission – and not just be a “follower.”