Gone are the days when influential fashion was reserved for the runway. Now – with the help of photography, the Internet, and subsequent development of blogging platforms – the fashion world has become increasingly democratic and accessible through the exploration, and celebration, of street style. Yet the recognition of street style is not as contemporary a phenomenon as one might assume, with examples of street style documentation dating back to as early as 1905 (Walker 2012). What began with the act of secretly photographing stylish women on the streets of London, however, has since exploded to become a distinct fashion genre within its own right. In fact, street style – and the documentation of it – has become so popular that even high-fashion giants like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar have devoted sections of their websites purely to recording trends spotted and captured on the streets. The rise of humble fashion blogs, too, have played a fundamental role in the bourgeoning popularity of street style, with websites such as Lookbook1 allowing literally anyone with an interest in fashion and the access to a camera and the Internet the opportunity to share their unique style with the world.
Lookbook – an “online style community where members share their personal style and draw fashion inspiration from each other” (Lookbook 2016) – combines classic street photography techniques with modern blogging practices to make fashion readily available to all. Drawing upon the likes of Jason Evans and the “cool neutrality” (Bilske 2004) of his straight-up documentary style, people are often photographed in unassuming street locations in a way that serves to not only utilise the “immediacy and realism” (Berry 2010, 129) of the street, but also take the emphasis away from place and demonstrate that fashion is a universal concept bound to no particular location. Not only this, but in removing geographical context, the photographs create a homogenous view of both fashion and the street; allowing for involvement from anyone in any corner of the globe.
It is through this acceptance of everyone, regardless of their age, nationality, or socio-economic group (Berry 2010, 135), that Lookbook – and the street style blog in general – has found its success. The every-day, ‘normal’ person within the image lends a sense of authenticity and accessibility to the clothing in a way that high-fashion models simply cannot achieve. In addition to this, wearers also display an eclectic mixing of styles; dressing in a combination of both ‘high’ and ‘low’ clothing, and demonstrating that fashion can be inclusive of everyone and not only reserved for a distinct class of people. This sense of inclusivity is also achieved through the blog format, which allows users to ‘like’ and comment on other peoples looks; resulting in an engaging and accessible platform for a diverse range of people to network and share their love for fashion.
Since neither location nor ‘model’ is deemed important, street-style – and street-style blogs –place the emphasis on clothing and fashion itself (rightfully so) and it is for this reason that it has become the increasingly-popular sensation that it is today.
Berry, Jess. 2010. “Street-Style: Fashion Photography, Weblogs and the Urban Image.” Paper presented at The 2nd Global Conference Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues, Oxford, 2010.
Bilske, Maria. 2004. “Jason Evans, Stylist Simon Foxton.” Accessed 25th September.
Lookbook. 2016. “Lookbook Help Centre.” Accessed 25th September.
Walker, Dave. 2012. “Street Style 1906: Edward Linley Sambourne’s Fashion Blog.” The Library Time Machine, 29 March.