Fashion Business Style Tips

5 Streetwear sites that actually represent the street

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.

Fashion Business Fashion Philosophy

Fashion’s Fault Lines AW 2020

Movements that focus on the empowerment of women, or the salvation of the planet are vital to the preservation and continuation of (and are rightly adopted by) the fashion industry, but are frequently promoted to the hindrance of some really great clothes and shows.

This fall (through the first half of the four fashion weeks) there has been a return to something like a focus on form. No Extinction Rebellion hate-ins, no Vivienne Westwood sit outs, no (as yet) shows stealing the glory, and almost – thanks to COVID 19 – no shows at all. 

Regardless of the valid polemics, designers and brands would actually prefer shows that put clothes before issues. Victoria Beckham and Burberry delivered fine and affairs in an otherwise troublingly conservative London; Beckham has become the kind of Brit standard-bearer that Burberry used to be, while Burberry produced a sensuous collection that hints at less  British directions it could take under Ricardo Tisci. 

Never straying too far away from those tans trenches were patterns and layers that dared diffuse the ubiquitous check with nods to pumped athleisure. It was a show which acknowleded that – at the cutting edge – brands are willing to (have to) toy with their own legacy. This matters as much as diversity and sustainability in their received sense. Brands must diversify across the racial and retail spectrum whilst at the same time crystalizing brand identity, and must become sustainable for their own dogged survival. 

Gucci, the standout at Milan this week, has whittled  its aesthetic down to bare minimums in motif forms – Italian, catholic, perverse. Ultimately illustrating how to use simple, imperfectly matched, uncomplimentary colours to master a particular world. 

You wouldn’t be too stunned to see the same jacket or dress filtering through various seasons’ collections like some catwalk anomaly with the Italian brand. It’s the kind of spookiness Gucci vaunt; the idea that when the world is wrong you should turn a sweater on its head. Ironically, this is the kind of sustainability that brands cannot actually tolerate.