November 22, 2016

The Sudden Death Of Street Style

Street style – a phrase arguably used and abused in a fashion world now forever changed by social media. The phrase has taken on that not-so-subtle hint of jargon people toss around to show other people, “I’m in the know because I know things and am horribly important.” Also heard as, “Hansel, so hot right now.” Street Style is a thing, though, and here is why you, as a fellow devourer of fashion social media and lover of personal style, should care about what is happening to it.

Have you ever been scrolling the blogosphere, or social media and came across that one photo of a thoughtfully styled outfit, a carefully crafted interior, or a snapshot that captures a vivid moment of the world around you and totally stops your entire train of thought? Have you ever quietly uttered these words, “Oh my god, stop. I am obsessed!!”

Sshhh, of course you have, because you who are reading this are just like me, and I am here to tell you welcome to the party! You have, in fact, just experienced the benefits of a wonderful world of endless creativity, inspiration, and most importantly sharing of personal expression. As such, it wasn’t the perfection of the photo that probably stopped you cold; it was that aspect of it that was so splendidly an expression of the person who crafted it and one that you identify with. This, my friends, is Street Style – a collective movement of self-expression that is authentically in the consumer’s hands.

Let me journey back to the youth version of myself who happened to witness the birth, or at least the beginnings, of blogging and Street Style. Back then, fashion blogs consisted of scrolling through someone’s mood board, occasional outfit, and life musings. These blogs felt less polished professional and more like you had stumbled upon someone’s journal and were sneaking around in there.

Although high fashion has always emphasized that it is entirely artistic in nature, it often felt like an impenetrable bubble that outsiders could only revere. In contrast, this new type of blogging was a revelation in that the whole fashion world was open to explore. You, who previously felt somewhat alone in your journey and relationship with style, suddenly had so many like-minded people to bounce around with.

It was on one of these immature blogs that little old bleach blonde me scrolled through a beautiful collage of a Chanel fashion show featuring custom designed temporary tattoos. I became enchanted with them. I saved up beer cash for them, found myself bartering on E-Bay, and finally I obtained my own set for far too much money and wore them proudly around my college campus. You can bet I got tons of confused looks from frat stars, but I felt like a rock star none-the-less. While an older version of myself maybe wouldn’t wear a tattoo Chanel collar around my neck – hey I’m not ruling it out – I will remind everyone that flash tattoos became a major thing not a year after that show and I still say you have Chanel and bloggers to thank or hate for that.

It is no secret that corporate America has been chasing and bottling “cool” into a palatable formula to pump up their sales since Victorian Era women decided pinching their cheeks for a rosy look was no longer the move. However, as blogs become more polished, “cool” was coming from all directions except corporate, and big ol’ corporate who previously had much more control over influencing what consumers wanted to purchase, were left startled by this unexpected take over.

They had just invested tons of advertising, manufacturing, and promotional money into the argyle sweater (probably), while we were all obsessing over a new designer named Isabel Marant and her revelation of a wedge sneaker (It is still my dream to own this particular $700 Bekett shoe – how perfect is that name?!).

Whether you love or hate this shoe, its significance is undeniable. It was the first style that was copied and mass-produced from blogger’s influence, also known as entirely the consumer’s influence, people just like you. Interesting…….

So why is this important?  Because the fashion industry and personal style is art in its own form. The passion behind it is wildly apparent and keeping it as an authentic personal expression and not industries is… well important for obvious reasons. The benefits of exploring an artistic community include a deeper understand of yourself and the world around you, and if the fashion community isn’t art then I’m stumped. Then again, I am someone who will argue that Calvin and Hobbs is art until I hit my grave. Listen to my advice at your own discretion. Here is the issue of today that is killing the art of it all: paid-to-wear outfits.

“Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.” – Vogue on Fashion Week for Spring 17. Click for article.

No one doubts that bloggers are powerful influencers and that power is never more clear than when at fashion week. Those who previously wanted to work in the fashion industry had to claw their way up the ladder with coffee and fluff pieces just to get somewhat decent seats to see the latest beautiful art their favorite designers had created that season. Those same people have had to watch, what in their mind must seem like a bunch of women who simply pose in clothes, as Street Style bloggers take front row next to Anna Wintour in no time.

I bet it is easy to see that disparity and discredit the blogger as petty, but lets not trip into that same pitfall. Remember the blogger represents you, and the fashion world must learn to coexist with you to drive industry rather than visa versa. However, what is not ok is when the blogger stops representing you and starts representing their own financial gain at the expense of creative authenticity. When the authenticity disappears, their work becomes less like a celebration of style and more like a parade of validation. That is never a cool parade. That concept means using the power you provide to bloggers who are supposed to represent Street Style (their own style) solely to drive their own monetary value and put the world of fashion back in corporate’s control.

So with all that said and done, my title for today’s article still may seem a bit dramatic, but in the end: No, I don’t think Street Style is going to die. I do think it is of the utmost importance, however, that we understand the danger of loosing creative integrity. As long as we continue to support and reward those bloggers who make it a point to retain their own creative integrity and transparency, then the world remains our oyster. Let me make this next point exceptionally clear: being paid to do what you are passionate about is NEVER a problem; collecting paychecks to support opinions that are not your own is a huge problem.

On that regard 3 things are very important for me to say right now.

1) Every blogger Beckett has partnered with (or will work with in the future) has always remained in creative control and each and every one of them are amazing style aficionados. We have never paid someone to promote a specific item we wanted sold.

2) I know some of you are raising an eyebrow at your screens – aren’t I reading a store’s blog you may have asked? While it is our aim that every Beckett writer retains her own voice both in written opinion and stylistically, we have never written a blog under the assumption of being unbiased. Every clothing product sold or promoted on the blog is a Beckett product. We make that clear in every post.

3) I will excitedly end with this: The goal of opening Beckett was for you – the style-obsessed to the style-interested.

If throughout this entire post I have been raving about Art with a capitol A, let me make this last analogy. We all have H&M, Target, and Urban hanging in our closets. Nothing wrong with that, I own plenty of it. However, if those mass-produced trends can be called the copies, or prints if you will, then at Beckett you will find the original paintings.

We aim to carry those beautiful designers that pour their lives into creating the trends that trickle down through the system. It is up to you to decide which beautiful original you want to take home and wear proudly as an expression you identify with.

Viva La Street Style, Viva La Personal Style 😉 – C*

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We dig fashion and unique personal style. Through our welcoming King Street location, we strive to share that passion with the Charleston community and beyond by showcasing our curated selections of the latest fashions in a way that's fun, fresh, and accessible.

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