Has the evolution of street style blurred the lines of reality?
While Street Style has always existed, the phenomenon has only become globally-recognised in recent years, thanks to the internet and social media. Now, even the most powerful fashion publications are unable to ignore its influence.
Bill Cunningham is a trailblazer of street style photography; he first started snapping candid photographs for The New York Times in the late 1970s. For years, the self-taught photographer gained international recognition for his work, as he preferred to document authentic personal style to celebrity fashion.
This movement has changed the way we observe trends; cutting-edge fashion is no longer reserved for the pages of glossy magazines and the runways of fashion shows. These days, it seems as though street style photography may be just as important as traditional fashion mediums – perhaps even more so.
Some of the biggest labels in the fashion industry have recognised that there is value in aligning with stylish social media influencers. Many brands have made a splash by lending items from their latest collections to popular fashion bloggers and Instagrammers, hoping that the social media superstars will be snapped outside fashion week shows while wearing the gear, thus achieving the ultimate instant street-style status.
But has the evolution of street style taken away from the reality of this fashion documentation?
Late in his life, Cunningham famously explained, “I am not fond of photographing women who borrow dresses. I prefer parties where women spend their own money and wear their own dresses… When you spend your own money, you make a different choice.”
These views align with those of longtime top-tier fashion editors and critics, who recently dubbed the new wave of fashion influencers peacocking outside the runway shows as “desperate” and even “embarrassing”.
These opinions, expressed after Paris Fashion Week in September last year, are said to have instigated a war between journalists and bloggers.
The comments were addressed in a number of lengthy blog posts and open letters explaining the influencers’ shock at how nasty and biased the comments were.
Zanita Whittington, an Australian model turned popular blogger and photographer, wrote to The Daily Beast and explained that there was no acknowledgement of how much the blogger scene is “valued by magazines and designers, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many photographers making incomes out of it. [Fashion publications] are the ones supplying the demand. That’s the definition of hypocrisy.”
Feature image: Street Smith