There has been an expanding style of fashion emerging within society over the last couple of decades and it has nothing to do with which designer you’re wearing. Street style fashion can be explained through Herbert Blumer’s ‘trickle up’ theory whereby the trends are started on the streets as a rebellion against conformity. This eventually becomes adopted by the upper classes through the influence of designers that are inspired by street style fashion. [ i ]
However, the ‘trickle down’ theory applied to fashion by Georg Simmel explains that the lower classes emulate clothing worn by the upper classes in order to present themselves as belonging to a higher socio-economic group. [ ii ] This in turn perpetuates a change in trends from the upper classes in order to distinguish themselves from the lower classes, resulting in a continuous cycle of fashionable clothing. So which is it? Are we copying what the rich and famous are wearing to present ourselves as belonging to that particular group or are we rebelling from conformity and mainstream society?
The image above shows a group of women who have no relation or interaction with one another and presents them in a way which looks as if they belong to a particular subculture. These photographs are just a few samples of what photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek have produced in their series ‘Exactitudes’. The images illustrate how we strive to distinguish ourselves by assuming an overall group identity. [ iii ] In other words, if we see a style and we identify with it, we then adopt that look as being a part of our own individual identity.
You only have to look through magazines to find out what’s fashionable, what you should be wearing or the latest styles in footwear etc. Mass production also plays a major part in how accessible fashionable clothing is nowadays, making the distinction between social classes nothing but a blur. It’s no wonder Exactitudes has found so many people from different walks of life wearing almost identical items of clothing, because ultimately whether or not we do it to rebel or to identify ourselves with a particular group, it is human nature to copy what we admire and emulate it.
[ i ] Berry, J 2014, Week 5 Street Style and Subcultures, 2432QCA Contemporary Fashion, Griffith University, Queensland College of Art,<https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-1010412-dt-content-rid-2625166_1/courses/2432QCA_3145_SB/Course%20Content/Week%205%20Street%20Style%20%26%20Subcultures/fashion%205%20street%20style%20lecture.pdf>
[ ii ] Walmsley, D 2011, viewed 18 September 2014,<http://www.thegenteel.com/articles/design/trickle-down-theory>
[ iii ] Versluis, A & Uyttenbroek, E, viewed 18 September 2014, <http://www.exactitudes.com/index.php?/series/all/144/5>
Versluis, A & Uyttenbroek, E 2012, Exactitudes, viewed 18 September 2014, <http://www.exactitudes.com/index.php?/series/all/144/5>