Out with the old, in with the new: Street Style and its Chic Factor. Goodbye People Magazine…hello, American Apparel lookbook collaboration with Lookbook.nu users and Style Sample Magazine.
Could it have just been a few short years ago that we saw the rise of those snazzy, hyped-up boutiques that advertised their products “As Seen on Audrina Patridge and Kim Kardiashian!” – Paris Hilton as style icon — and celebrities and demi-lebreties fueling consumer mania? Once upon a time, the public was hanging on to J. Lo’s every move, snapping up heeled Timberlands and the latest Juicy Couture velour tracksuit (as seen on Pamela Anderson!). But times are a-changing, it seems, and the wave of interest in A-listers has waned (perhaps in part due to a flailing economy, general disgust towards Hollywood salaries spiraling out of control, the emergence of celebrity stylists and their minions to the media forefront *ahem, Rachel Zoe*, the rise in popularity and box office power of indie films, and more exposure to the PR vehicle behind every star, just to touch on a few factors in all this). Though what the Stars are doing and Wearing is still hot fodder for many blogs, magazines, talk-shows [and the E! channel's programming]… the people watching today are smarter, have more access to information than ever before, and have begun to turn away from the carefully constructed circus of image. Now it seems we’ve entered a completely new era: that of the EveryMan (or, more specifically, EveryWoman)…and now everyone seems to be sitting up and taking notice.
Heralded by the runwawy success of street-style photoblogs such as The Sartorialist and JakandJil.com, and personal style-sharing sites such as Lookbook.nu and Chictopia, in the last 2 years alone there has been an online explosion of sites on the internet devoted to the style of the stylish unknown: the girl (or guy) who has that certain je ne sais quoi about them.
Women check out these blogs and see the Beautiful Stranger. They check out her outfit details, hairstyle, and makeup. And sometimes, such style can lead to an impromptu purchase by the onlooker. And retailers are increasingly taking notice of this street cred influencing consumers.
What with ModCloth sponsoring outfits for many bloggers (so much so that the term “ModCloth Robot” has been floating around the blogosphere for awhile), StyleList and Bluefly’s search for America’s Most Stylish Blogger last Fall where they sent the participants items from Bluefly and had us style them in our own outfits, Ann Taylor LOFT’s campaign partnering with Jessica Schroeder of WhatIWore, and most recently, the newly-launched scrolling functionality of The Gap 1969 Stream photo collage of both models and regular people wearing their Gap jeans.
Well-read blogs are beginning to wield huge influence – with the bloggers elevated from just another stylish person online to luxury bag designer [Emily Schuman for Coach], front-row Fashion Week attendee [Tavi Gevinson at Dior Fall/Winter 2010], shoe design collaborator [Jane Aldrige with Urban Outfitters], and campaign model [Rumi Neely for Forever21], just to name a few.
It’s no longer just a handful of corporate websites out there – it’s all over the place that we’re seeing the beautiful, almost anonymous stranger showcasing her personal style (which seems so much more attainable to the average person, right?).
Since I just received Banana Republic’s “Life at Work” Fall catalog (see above), replete with photographs of their products shot on the backs of what appear to be regular people (along with their job descriptions next to them – and not just “model” mind you!)…just how strong a trend Street Style has become is an issue that’s been on my mind lately.
So here it’s opened up to you: is Street Style the new litmus test of What’s Fashionable? Do you pay more attention to the celebrities and A-listers, models during their down time, or what that cool-looking Beautiful Stranger is wearing in some street snapshot somewhere? Is Street Style the new determinate of chic?