Perhaps one of the most unusual perspectives of contemporary fashion I have come across is the influence of street style. I find this mix between the polished and pretentious world of fashion and the ‘everyday’ person an interesting balance of power. The influence of street styles and the bubble up effect play an interesting role in the democratisation of fashion. My favourite example of the bubble up theory in fashion would have to be the Spring/Summer 1993 Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis collection. This collection was Jacob’s landmark homage to the Seattle grunge scene that was happening at the time.

“Two-dollar second-hand flannel shirts were translated into plaid-printed silks, lumberjack thermals were re-imagined in cashmere and Kurt Cobain’s floral granny dress was turned into floaty chiffon, worn with untied DMs or duchesse-satin Converse” (Madsen 2013).

marc jacobs 1993
Marc Jacob’s was attempting to take this cheap, messy and easy to achieve look and recreate it in the luxurious world of high fashion. In doing so designers are seen to be keeping with emerging trends without compromising their designer status. I find this particular instance of the bubble up effect entertaining. Marc Jacob’s sent out samples of the collection to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love who promptly burnt them. This example of the bubble up effect can be considered one of the least successful attempts. Indeed, the scene Marc Jacob’s was trying so hard to appeal to was also the same scene rebelling against these ‘mainstream’ industries. The break out of ‘grunge’ was alternative and anti conformist the purpose was to be unapologetic about who you were. The juxtaposition of a designer whose job it was to determine and disseminate what was to be considered fashionable, sending a collection based on ‘grunge’ is somewhat humorous. I believe that the actions of Marc Jacobs perhaps reflect his fundamental misunderstanding of the subculture he was trying so hard to symbolize.
I guess the lesson to be learnt when considering street style and the bubble up effect is to know the subculture which you are appealing too. “Those who are actually members of such stylistically influential subcultures may not share this enthusiasm for the bubble-up process” (Welters 2007). Although designers may consider the street as a great source for new trends and style, the people who originally created these styles would undoubtedly feel undermined. I guess the one thing which can be agreed upon is that the bubble up effect is certainly a system that democratises fashion and in turn can make or break a designer’s collection.



Brundage, D 2014, Trending: the trickle up effect, viewed 12 September 2014,

Madsen, S 2013, Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis: the zeitgeist-capturing grunge tributethat went up in flames, viewed 12 September 2014,

Welters, Linda & Lillethun, Abby 2007, ‘The fashion reader: trickle down, bubble up’, New York: Berg. Ch. 45. Polhemus, Ted. Trickle down, bubble up, pp.327-331


Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis Spring/Summer Collection 1993, viewed 12 September 2014,

Frohman, J 1993, viewed 12 September 2014,

Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis Spring/Summer Collection 1993, viewed 12 September 2014,