Generally the people at Vogue send a photographer to the shows each season just to snap all the trendy buyers and (fortunate) students on their way in.
These people are frequently wearing something notional from the country or label whose show they’re going to see – they’re dressed as an acolyte of Gucci or in the Chanel pants and floral tie they own, and – of course – they know fashion.
This is not strictly streetwear. It’s neither highly representational of what fashionable people wear around major city streets, nor is it especially inspiring (it is aspirational in a sense) or even true to the way the designers of those labels piece together their ideas – stealing, ripping and borrowing from their label’s respective history, what is going on in their head, what the client-base wants and what is happening on the street.
Streetwear that is informed by designer labels can be a valid contributor to a vital scene and to a vivacious sense of personal style. Sometimes it works in the opposite direction too: Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton has advanced a future synthesis by looking in all directions (geographically and chronologically) including the streets to create superb lines; The kind of collections that every authentic fashion follower dreams of achieving with at least one outfit.
But one of the problems with streetwear (or rather the term) is that it tends to encompass exclusively what street photographers are looking for when they prowl specific neighbourhoods looking for specific type of dress. It’s a little like creating a portfolio of New Yorkers with all of them being models; like expecting all of us to be able to afford and manufacture the LV look.
Yes, fantasy and costume has an important place in fashion and its streetwear incarnation, but the focus on brand-heavy, costumized clothing ideals is misleading on a number of levels.
It creates tropes about what ‘fashion’ people wear (and what non-fashion people can’t). It frequently expounds the virtues of dressing with money – a kind of philosophy of fashion in itself. And lastly and most harmfully, it creates a dialogue about fashion and the street that is completely out of tune with what the majority (and the extremely stylish minority) actually do wear, whilst placing an emphasis on extroversion.
Tokyo may have provided the underpinning for such a philosophy. The alleys of Harajuku are still a haven for streetwear afficionados and cosplay innovators, and the city as a whole is a place where moneyed working people will wear expensive luxury items well. Western streetwear practioners have, to an extent, embraced these values at the expense of their own cultural heritage and a more innate sense of personal style.
That’s not to discredit the immense value that Japan has brought to fashion; just that the West has misapropriated aspects of these forms of dress and self-representation, as I’ve outlined at length previously.
Street style is analogous to all style, as long as you’re wearing it on the street. It’s about an adherence to personal preferences of fit, colour and formality. It’s also a matter of attempting to maximize these elements without resorting to excess funds – in this sense it’s like a working project. It’s also never about following (either a designer’s philosophy or a crowd’s preferences), but leading.
The following five sites are examplars of promoting this particular philosphy of fashion insofar as they’re inclined away from showing only how people dress to and around fashion shows.
They are also interested to some extent in promoting the character and sense of personal style of the people wearing the outfits.
That’s not to say that there is anything particularly deep in this approach: all fashion is objectively viewed and subjectively experienced, but it’s important that fashion is not just allowed to parade as a name-checking exercise, and that people are shown attempting to style in a way that suits them (whether they succeed or fail in anyone’s eyes). Not partly succeed because they spent enough and tick the right boxes for a Vogue photographer.