Finger on the trigger of social media

Mira Duma's Buro 24/7 network attempts to evolve modern Russian style

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 10:09am

Mira Duma is so busy these days it's a wonder how she finds the time to be such a prolific Facebooker and Instagrammer. With her smartphone whirring with activity almost every five minutes during our interview, Duma has an amazing ability to multitask.

The Russian digital media impresario fields questions on the business of fashion while taking pictures of the cupcakes on the table and sending them out on social media.

Duma is in Hong Kong as an ambassador for Chanel, and on hand for the opening of the invitation-only Chanel Numéros Privés exhibition at the Museum of Medical Sciences.

She has had business meetings, interviews, gala dinners, exhibition openings and even squeezed in a little shopping. "There is a Russian saying, 'the more you do, the more you manage'," she says.

"At the moment, I feel I am young and healthy and have the energy, so I can deal with it. It will not last forever, but I don't feel I can switch off completely. For example, Instagram is a part of my job. It's my audience that I'm sharing with."

Mira Duma is something of a phenomenon in her native Russia. A former editor of Harper's Bazaar Russia, the last five years have seen Duma build a digital media empire called Buro 24/7, a kind of CNN focused on fashion and culture. Duma and her close-knit group of fashion friends are known humorously as the Russian mafia, as their influence is so far reaching that they are virtual kingmakers in Russian fashion.

"I started Buro 24/7 as the future lies on the internet," Duma says. "We cover anything interesting. If it's a Chanel show, in half an hour it will be on Buro. We even write about Bernard Arnault looking for Belgian citizenship."

Duma's rise to prominence outside Russia owes much to the rise of the street-style photos that have proliferated in media, propagated by social media and bloggers.

This has made her a fashion celebrity, although, as bona fide fashion journalist for years, the association is slightly tenuous.

"Street style is a big thing these days and it's very influential. People come to the shows wearing something crazy, crazy hats, taking pictures of themselves outside the shows. This is strange, but this is now a part of the business," she says.

Duma is too savvy to pass direct comment on the street style heavyweights, but she returns to some homespun sayings to make her feelings clear. "There is a Russian saying: 'what is too much is too much'."

The expansion of Buro 24/7 has been taking up most of Duma's time, with plans for multiple language versions of the website.

Duma hopes that Russian designers such as Ulyana Sergeenko and Vika Gazinskaya get a chance to break into the global mainstream. But her feelings about Russian fashion are generally pessimistic.

"Moscow is not a fashion capital, unfortunately. We import fashion. Before the revolution, Russia was very fashionable, but then there was nothing for 70 years. Nothing.

"In the '90s when we found oil, this is when we started to consume," she says. "So the Russian fashion industry is only about 15 years old and makes the mistakes of a teenager."

So will sites like Buro 24/7 help Russia catch up with the rest of the world? Duma smiles knowingly, and gets back to Instagramming cupcakes.