generic serif;”>Lauren Tracey looks at the commercialization of street style and its effects on the industry.
“seek serif;”>Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, medical in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening,” – Coco Chanel.
For as long as it has existed, fashion has been a mode of self-expression. Through the years it has mirrored social change and displayed the conformism or eccentricities of those who wear it. In the 21st century, the online catwalk we refer to as “street style” is used as a way of accessing individual style, on real women. In her article for the New York Times entitled “Who Am I Wearing? Funny You Should Ask,” writer Ruth La Ferla discusses her thoughts on why street style, which she described as “fashion’s last stronghold of true indie spirit,” has lost its charm, and perhaps its relevance.
The concept of street style used to be non-commercial. There was an open invitation for one and all to take part in exhibiting their idea of style in an online environment that was almost free of fashion power-house influence. La Ferla writes that “stylists, bloggers, fashion editors and style-struck students click-clacked on the pavements, showing off a mash-up of vintage clothes, fast fashion and high-end labels,” Isn’t this essentially the whole purpose of fashion? That the individual can illustrate their unique style and taste through the form of clothing? The fashion of street style blogs was a personal choice only loosely based on what designers supplied us with. It was wearers – as opposed to magazine editors – that decided whether they favoured the ever popular feminine pastels or the gothic touches of black lace and leather.
La Ferla revealed that bloggers can be paid upwards of $2000 per appearance at events where they will be photographed, wearing the clothes and accessories that designers supply them with. It is here that a boundary has been surpassed. If one simply wears certain clothes because one is being paid a fee by the people who design and make those clothes, then can you really claim the self-styled status many of these bloggers do?
La Ferla states quite plainly that she feels that the fashion bloggers and web icons that are so often caught on camera attending various fashion events have become, quoting fashion branding assistant Tom Julian, “billboards for the brands”
If this is so then a case can be made for saying that street style is no longer really street style, but instead just an extension of the runways and magazines which the designers use as tools to sell their wares. It is disappointing to think that the bloggers and writers that achieved fame for marketing their own personal style have ceased to do even that.
In the next few years we could very well see street style slowly fading away due to this commercialisation, however, for the sake of self-expression and individuality, I hope we see the emergence of something else in its place.