Is It Just Me or Has the Street Style Circuit Been Cut Short?

Leandra Medine | February 24, 2016

There just wasn’t as MUCH on the streets of London

What an interesting time to be alive and in fashion. We’re living history, people! Fashion is changing before our eyes and we’re watching it like frogs inside of a cylinder full of water that is boiling slowly — too slowly for us to jump out but fast enough to recognize that it’s happening.

Man Repeller ritually reserves a story for street style for each of the fashion cities every season. London is always my favorite to cover. The real energy of personal style gets a chance to pump itself through the veins of curious onlookers who might be caught in a rut or may be looking for something weird to wear, but this season? I don’t know. I can’t quite tell if it’s just me feeling disenchanted — like a cynic who’s been born out of the Sandy Kenyon school of shitty commentary — or whether there is truly a lack of zest permeating the sidewalks that lead way to the venues that tell of next season under the grim veil of confusion.

Are you feeling it too?

I started to realize in New York that the street style fanfare was dying down. Yes, it was still there, but not the way it used to be. Yes, a ton of it was fantastic, but nothing made me want to go home and change. Did you want to go home and change? There were fewer photographers, fewer photos — a more condensed fanfare through the varying feeds of social media. And this might be a good thing! Maybe natural order — Darwin’s survival of the fittest — will resolve the complexities currently floating through fashion but because I’m me, I do also wonder if we’re hitting a curiously depressive slump.

A lack of will to get dressed.

Here’s how I see it having played out: We experienced an incipient boom with street style — one that was ushered in by the celebrification of fashion editors in the earlier portion of the 2010s. An editor’s outfit at a show has always been interesting but we — the public — didn’t know about that until we were granted access by way of photographer. Brands caught on quickly — turning to their closets to provide samples and gifts to the new-age celebrities (free marketers) who could wear their clothes, get photographed and be seen. Publications caught on, too, enlisting the help of these photographers and ones just like them to create content for their platforms. As a result, the supply grew and maybe by virtue of the Canon-clad mobs that started to loiter among the shows, the attendants felt a heightened sense of pressure to either perform or merely slip away. So the impetus of getting dressed was disturbed. It lost what made it honest. And so the burn out started. First, as a movement called normcore but now? That curiously depressive state of profound disinterest to get dressed for the flailing balls of it. I had to look hard to find stuff to get me going — maybe that’s a piece of it, too. I’m so used to letting it fall into my lap. But I don’t know, what are you thinking?

Collage by Elizabeth Tamkin.

hyperlink-gif-london-5-top-5s

  • ReadER451

    I don’t think it is a lack of will to get dressed. People in these photographs seem to put a lot of thought in how they are going to wear the clothes they have been loaned.

    I remember when I first learned about Tommy Ton and his photos of the models and editors. Everything seemed so effortless, yet glamorous. The models holding their Chanel purses, editors with their low slung skinny jeans and Alaia boots, ADR and her cherry hat. It really was so exciting. Maybe it is just not as invigorating anymore? Maybe we know what to expect outside the shows? I don’t think it has run its course, but I don’t know what else I want to see. Maybe this is just how it is.

    • ReadER451

      Also, I miss Emmanuelle Alt photos. To me, that is style.

      • http://www.sartreuse.com Sartreuse

        Yeah, I miss those too! She will always be the queen of streetstyle to me. I’ll never be able to reach that level of nonchalance, haha.

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  • http://www.uptownbourgeois.com Uptown Bourgeois

    After attending shows this season, it does seem like there’s a lack of interest in street style. Only a handful of photogs were waiting outside of the shows. With how rapidly the industry is changing, I think everyone is confused about where to focus.

  • Marike M.

    For me this feels good! I don’t think street style is depressed, I think it is less self-centered. Maybe we are just not that much convulsively trying to stand out and be cool anymore. We don’t spend as much of our precious time looking in the mirror anymore, we spend it reading about the political and cultural topics fashion is relating to these days. We don’t spend our money on ever faster changing collections and trends, we spend it on personal development en experiences. Our personal style is a mean to an end again, not the end itself. Personal style is allowed to be inside our comfort zone again, to help us to confidently pursue our goals. Confidence and identity are by a smaller degree defined by the way we present ourselves to the world, than it was before. For many people, me included, this means our style is simpler, yet more stable and sustainable. For me this all means I buy fewer crazy items and have fewer striking style days, but I certainly do cherish my style moments more, because they are more me, less trend.
    Fashion week is about the art of fashion again, street style is about being dressed while on the street again.

    • https://therambleco.wordpress.com/ Amber

      YES! Please world, let this be the case

  • EP

    I’m confused. You posted during NYFW that street style was personal again, which to me seems like a good thing. Meticulously branded outfits that don’t necessarily relate to real life are meant for the catwalk, not the street. Now you’re saying you didn’t see any street style that inspired you to go home and change. So what is real and practical isn’t inspiring? I disagree because what I saw are things that I could actually work into my very real and normal life.

    • Leandra Medine

      So, I made reference to that story in this one — and think that was more of a note on the fact that people are TRYING as hard as they used to BUT I’m also a complicating (not exactly complicated more like makes things more difficult that they have to be) person with weird, dichotomous thoughts and I’m impatient, so I let them out before they’re fully baked and then confuse people i.e. you =(

      • http://thecheapishly.com/ Hannah

        I actually think there was a very clear common thread through both that past post and this one: street style is now, again, more about what people actually really truly want to wear than what looks best through the lens of the photographer. While this is encouraging in that it releases the collective us from feeling pressure to perform and instead concentrate on wearing what makes us feel damn good when we leave the house in the morning, perhaps it also results in less-than-inspiring looks on other people?

        Just as the prettiest, most inspiring pictures in Vogue are often the craziest/weirdest/dreamiest/Grace Coddingtonest, maybe we got accustomed to distilling the most performative street style into our own more wearable looks. Now that everybody’s distilling their own looks, it’s less inspiring in a sartorial sense while more inspiring in a we-value-genuine-style way?

  • heather

    With New York the photographers are now mostly at the bigger shows where celebrities and known street stylers will be. When the shows were at Lincoln Center everything was condescended so you get a look at those who aren’t really known. Also this season was bitterly cold. Yes in Feb. we’ve had snow during FW, but its was just outrageously cold. Also the street style around NYFW was just absurd to begin with. People would wear the kitschy things and stand around Lincoln Center just to get noticed. But at least it had some time of personality. I think a lot of the street style shown above is great but it’s just all designer stuff and nothing original. It feels like — I put this on because it will stand out, but they did nothing to make it there own.

    <3
    heather
    fashionistanygirl.com

  • http://scarlettandgiselle.blogspot.com Jenna Opsahl

    I do feel like normcore kind of ruined something. Or maybe that all happened at the same time I moved to LA and my view is just tainted by the leather jacket torn shorts uniform down here. I think there has been a definitely lack of creativity in street style lately, but there are also a lot of cool people like the ones in the above photos who are keeping fashion alive.

  • Kelsey O’Donnell

    I think you hit the nail on the head with “So the impetus of getting dressed was disturbed.” Perhaps it’s that changing outside forces can create a heightened awareness of how the world sees us. Until this heightened awareness subsides and we adjust, or we no longer give a shit, we retreat to a more moderate version of ourselves. Certainly our personal identity is inevitably influenced by the context in which we express that identity. Prior to 2010, show attendees had grown accustomed to a certain paradigm, and in the comfort of understanding how their message would be perceived within that paradigm, acquired a freedom to innovate, push boundaries, and take risks without fear. 2010 began a paradigm shift that fundamentally altered, in a big way, the outside forces that attendees had learned to contend with. Inevitably, growing pains accompany such a shift, and during this period, fewer risks will be taken and fewer boundaries pushed, until the new outside influences are understood and people feel free to express themselves without fear of misinterpretation. I think (and I hope (naively?)) that the current disinterest in getting “dressed just for the flailing balls of it” (<3) is just a phase!

  • l:ly

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  • http://www.afternoonglow.com Heather P.

    I assumed some of the lackluster street style during NYFW this year had to do with the weather being so cold! Even if someone did take the time and care in their outfit, many photos I saw showed only tiny glimpses of those outfits poking out of thick coats and fuzzy hats! Many others looked like the ditched their original outfits altogether in favor of comfort (and not getting frostbite).

    Of course, I’ll go along with your idea that in “warmer” climates recently, it seems to be fizzling out too. Even walking along the streets in Seattle, I can tell that “street style” is everywhere. It’s not just people who work in fashion who are making an effort and trying new things – everyone is doing it now.

    I guess now every street is a potential runway?

    If so, I’m fine with it. 🙂

  • http://www.alliesfashionalley.com Allie

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    xo

    Allie

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  • EveYedid

    Yes, I SO agree with this article! I thought it was just me… but I am glad to see someone else has noticed the lackluster street style plaguing NYC at the moment.
    Ever since childhood, my family and I would take frequent trips to NYC from my midwest hometown in OH. I used to salivate at the mouth looking at all of the fashionable blurs that passed by me on the city streets, completely in awe of the creatively layered ensembles that I wish lingered just a second more. I used my photographic memory to sketch them to the best of my ability when I got home, and then would promptly try to recreate the looks on my own time (and budget).

    Recently, after FINALLY moving to the city myself, it has occurred to me that I just don’t get the same jaw-dropping reaction from the street style that I once used to experience. Yes, people are still tall and beautiful and mostly clad in black or gray, but I rarely do I stop and stare at someone and think to myself “Yesssssss. Nailed it.” But I can’t help but attribute another reason for this…

    1. THE STORES AREN’T SH*T!
    As an avid shopper (who isn’t, I know) retail just isn’t what it used to be. I hate when people say this…because I usually find it so untrue…but lately I kind of hear myself believing the mantra “there’s nothing to buy.” Whether I’m in a department store, a boutique on Bleecker, or at thrift shop in BK… I more often than not leave empty handed.
    2. PRICES ARE HIGH (for good style and quality). Yes, of course, high end clothes continue to thrill me… but with a Rachel Comey blouse at an average price of $385, perhaps the masses cannot afford to WOW like they once used to.
    3. Athletic Wear Reigns.

  • Aggie

    Aaaah I kind of disagree with this :/ I live in London and I really feel like fashion week is not a reflection of the fashion culture of a city…I don’t think streetstyle is lacking, I just think that since ‘the burn out’ situation you were mentioning there are less talented people out there who photograph it and upload it online for our little eyes. I also think that those people don’t tend to hang around fashion week venues (i.e: I see most of them during my commute) BUT it is true that they are harder to spot. In my opinion, it is more due to the fast-fashion movement: to me it looks like everyone now has access to decent clothes/cuts/fabrics and thus to look a bit different there are no other solution than shifting more towards luxury designers. If you think about it, for the past five years all the mainstreams stores have adopted the styles you would usually find in vintage stores. Ok, I’m talking too much byyye.

  • Pandora Sykes

    Did you read Lou’s piece in The FT? The one we’re quoted in? Interesting. Sidenote: I don’t often like the outfits in streetstyle pics. Some real gems are missed out because they aren’t swishing their hair at the right moment, or they aren’t super skinny.
    BTW I WAS NOT LOANED THESE CLOTHES, ReadER451. THEY ARE ALL MINE.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/4cefe172-7739-11e5-a95a-27d368e1ddf7.html

  • Mags

    I agree with this article. My feeling is that people are either trying too hard or not at all but nobody seems to be authentic to their actual style and self – which is what makes each person interesting and ultimately what inspires! I found a lot of pictures from the NYFW too be almost “circus-like” in the sense that they put on everything they can find that will make them stand out or dress exactly alike – just to get snapped by a Canon. Every Instagram account starts to look the same and suddenly everyone is wearing the same “IT” thing for the moment. I am BORED.

  • Carlotta

    LFW did feel a little dull this season, which is probably the ultimate indicator of how things are changing.. It almost felt like we were undergoing a sort of transitioning season – literally – where everyone involved was passively behaving as they always have despite knowing it might be time for a significant change.
    We will see what next season brings in terms of innovation, and hopefully reinventing how we perceive and handle fashion weeks will swipe away the feeling of sickness and overwhelm that we’ve been accumulating from quite some time and which came out all at once this season..

    Still! I was so excited when I saw our pom-poms trousers among your street style favourites!! Thank you so much! ❤️

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  • Victoria

    Probably because some rappers are bankrupt and people realise that it is more shine and show with not much behind. X Victoria – Escorts in London

  • http://zanita.com Zanitazanita

    Milan was awesome!

  • http://aldraws.blogspot.com Al

    The problem is that the most uninteresting fashion decade of all times, the 90s, is making a comeback. It’s the trend of the moment and is the inspiration of almost every collection on the runways this season. And that’s all you see on the streets, since it’s very hard to find street style celebs and fashion week regulars who don’t religiously follow the trend of the moment. Give it a couple of years, let the 90s trend pass and die, and we’re going to binge-watch street style blogs again. Personally I can’t wait.
    xx Al

  • brujasbite

    This could in part be a reaction to the self-as-brand movement, where the party you went to last night, or the view out of our London hotel, your front row seat as documented on Snapchat is your best form of outwardly expressing yourself through media. People aren’t waiting around to be validated by one photograph that may or may not end up on a visible fashion site, so what’s the point of peacocking when you know you have thousands of loyal followers in your pocket?

  • http://belvele.com Monica Rojas

    Leandra,
    This is how I currently feel about fashion altogether. I wasn’t sure if it’s because of my focus on sustainability, but I recently became overwhelmed by the staggering amount of trends that are being pushed on us so quickly and back to back. The combination of fast fashion and social media have bombarded us with new things we “have to have” to the point where it all seems futile.
    I remember a while back you wrote a post about feeling boring because you kept going back to your basics. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, partly also because I loved to San Francisco (zero closet space). But now I am just cherishing those go-to pieces that I can mix and match effortlessly, and feel comfortable in.
    Maybe, after a few months/years of keeping it simple, I will seek out change. For now, it feels good to immerse myself in minimalism.