This past Saturday Susie Bubble of Style Bubble posted the video Take My Picture on her blog. The film which is produced by Garage Magazine describes its purpose saying, “our intention simply was to observe the phenomenon of fashion bloggers and street style stars. As we started to review the footage, two salient trends became apparent: fashion editors frustrated by the ensuing commotion outside of shows, and the rise of “peacocking” street style stars as a result of the proliferation of blogs. This film examines these themes from both perspectives.” I watched the video, thought about it and let it go. Then I woke up Tuesday morning to find my inbox flooded with messages from friends and readers urging me to take a look at the film. So I watched it again. At first I was inspired to write a post about the two very distinct sides of this debate: the street style media circus vs. the viable marketing opportunities for designers, bloggers and photographers. I began to recall countless articles and responses that have flooded the Internet this past month and realized that Take My Picture is just the latest addition in a long line of commentary on the street style phenomenon.
In February, Suzy Menkes published her now infamous attack on street style, The Circus of Fashion in The New York Times blog T Magazine. She likened the scene outside of the fashion shows to a “circus” and a “zoo”. Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller, enraged by this article, wrote a response that gained a ton of traction on the Internet. This inspired countless industry insiders such as Derek Blasberg and Take My Picture, among others, to put in their two cents.
So I thought to myself, what could I possibly say that is new? Not much. Each side has a valid point. Street style is simultaneously honest and disingenuous. Designers dress bloggers, bloggers put their own unique spin on the clothes, countless wardrobe changes are made daily and every photo is staged to some degree. So what? Who really cares?
Some editors seem to hate the media frenzy, but major publications continue to employ these photographers and perpetuate this circus. Is there really any difference between dressing a celebrity or giving clothes to fashion’s elite for the purpose of being photographed? No. Not really. So what is the problem? Do editors really hate the work that these bloggers and street style participants create? Or are they simply annoyed by the inconvenience it causes when trying to make their way to the shows? The later, I can sympathize with.
Either way, it is clear that the majority of this industry is responsible, to some degree, for contributing to the creation of this phenomenon. In The Cut’s latest article How Street Style Became a Hate-Watching Sport, Kurt Soller raises the question, why are editors, bloggers or photographers pointing the finger and placing blame on someone else? Menkes on the up and coming tastemakers, Medine on bloggers who accept freebies and Blasberg on non-minimalists.
In The Cut’s article, Soller provides perhaps the most honest perspective on the subject that I have yet to read. He states, “I can’t look at any of it without realizing, after five or so slides and tens of thousands of dollars in clothes, one thing: I’m hate-watching.” We live in a world that loves to hate. We love worst dressed lists, seeing celebrities crash and burn and watching reality TV that makes us all feel just a bit better about ourselves. Perhaps street style, or even these debates are just the latest additions to the endless list of things that we as a society love to hate.
In his article, Soller notes that, “there comes a point in every cultural phenomenon — whether it’s Girls, or Vine, or Instagram, or Bret Easton Ellis — that earnestly appreciating something becomes boring”. Are we all so cynical that we are just looking to hate on someone or something new because we are bored? Perhaps, but it seems more optimistic than the alternative; attacking people for just trying to make a living doing what they are passionate about.
Whether or not valid points have been made by Menkes, Medine, Blasberg or Soller, street style, the media circus surrounding it and the reader’s demands for more images wage on. So, let’s agree to disagree, love to hate and continue as Soller says, “clicking forward for some batshit fashion game of I Spy.” That is, until the next hot thing to hate comes along.
*Photos Courtesy of T Magazine