His exquisitely-cut suit is a perfect match for his suave manners. His tie and a bright handkerchief round off the look. This is Antonio Ambrosio; fashion is his game and Instagram made his name. His ability to put together stylish outfits landed him the opportunity to work with international brands. He makes a living through posting his photos on Instagram, a world away from a childhood in the grip of war.
Instagram is a social network that allows users to share their pictures and videos.
“I was just posting pictures of what I wear on a regular basis to work on Instagram and then I got a number of fashion blogs that were sending me messages on Instagram asking for my permission to use my pictures on their blogs, then OTAA AUSTRALIA discovered me,” says Ambrosio.
OTAA Australia sells a wide range of bow ties, ties, and more.
Hailing from Luanda, Angola, Ambrosio moved to South Africa in 1998 to escape his country’s brutal civil war. A decision he will always thank his parents for instead of struggling for survival in the conflict.
“I was too young at the time to fully understand the seriousness of the circumstances in Angola during the time we moved to South Africa,” he says.
Coming from a family of eight children, Ambrosio went to visit his home four years after the war ended in 2006.
“It was then where I learned a great deal about my country. The civil war destroyed Angola’s infrastructure and severely damaged the nation’s public administration and economic establishments,” he says.
Although his country deteriorated, Ambrosio’s career blossomed.
His interest in fashion design grew after his first job as a sales assistant at Hackett London in 2011.
“I devoted many hours meticulously studying traditional Italian and English bespoke artistry. I later taught myself basic production skills; combined with my intimate passion for fine art that has carried me from a young age.”
The 25-year-old has recently been approached by New York Red Bulls footballer, Felipe Martins, to dress him. But his daily bread comes from Instagram. With more than 27,000 followers, Ambrosio makes more than $50 a post, depending on the company he’s working with.
Ambrosio has worked with many other international brands, mostly start-up companies from New York, Sydney and London, as well as South Africa’s established luxury watch company, Picot & Moss.
“I had a number of companies that approached me and sent me their stuff and I’d blog for them in return for money,” he says.
As he continued to post photos of himself wearing his suits, demand grew.
“People started asking where I got my suits, everywhere I went people were interested then I thought you know I could actually start a business from this, so basically I did.”
According to a recent study, Instagram has grown from 1.1 million users in 2014 to more than 2.68 million users in 2016.
Instagram is also the preferred social network for major brands. At present, 42% of major brands are using it, with Mr Price and Mercedes claiming the most success
Johannesburg media analyst, Arthur Goldstuck, says Instagram is growing fast.
“You have a lot of media personalities who have also used Instagram successfully to enrich themselves of influences and as a result of that they get a lot of request to do endorsements by big brands,” says Goldstuck.
Ambrosio works with eight people. He designs up to 10 suits a month and makes more than $700 a time. He even changed his Instagram page from a personal page to a company page. He only posts the suits he designs and the items from the companies he works with.
“Instagram is such a visual platform, when it comes to advertising it’s really the best platform you can use,” he says.
“This is going to become even bigger over the next five years,” says Goldstuck.
Nominated as one of GQ’s best dressed men in 2015, Ambrosio sees dollar signs when he wakes up, gets dressed and chooses just the right accessories before going on Instagram