Is “street style” becoming totally bought and paid for?
A piece in yesterday’s New York Times, coupled with our own observations, makes us think it is.
At some point “street style” referred to stylish people wearing their own clothes that they bought and put together in outfits themselves and then just went about their business. Now, there are stylists, PRs, agents, staged shoots, and more factors coming together to take the authenticity out of street style, especially during fashion week, kind of like they did to blogs.
The Times‘ Ruth La Ferla spoke with several of these “factors” and kind of put it all together through a series of kind of depressing quotes. Some examples:
People still think street style is a voice of purity. But I don’t think purity exists any more.–Tom Julian, a fashion branding specialist
Most young designers don’t have the resources to hire high-powered PRs or have access to important editors and stylists, so lending their clothes to friends and supporters who will get photographed is a great way to get noticed by both the industry and consumers.–Phil Oh of Streetpeeper
Oh is likely referring to Susie Lau, who tells the La Ferla that she does sometimes wear clothes as a favor, but that, “I work with brands I like, when there is already a relationship,” which we definitely believe–her style is truly authentic.
We all know that there are celebrity endorsement deals. On some level this is a piece of the same thing. –Karen Robinovitz, the founder and creative head of Digital Brand Architects, who represent fashion bloggers
While we knew that bloggers are gifted clothes and accessories by designers who hope they wear them on their blogs (just as Rabinovitz alluded to), we were kind of surprised to learn how much pre-planning and staging goes into a spontaneous looking blog post.
“Few people realize that certain bloggers and seemingly random posers are modeling for a fee,” said Daniel Saynt, a partner in Socialyte, a firm that puts brands and influencers together. “But even those who are aware don’t always understand the degree to which we orchestrate these placements.”
Robinovitz confirms that such orchestration occurs. “We use stylists, we do color correction and Photoshopping, we scout locations every day,” she said. “It often takes hours just to find the perfect street corner.”
La Ferla also points to some startling figures–$2,000 to $10,000–as the amount a blogger or influencer can make from a brand for appearing somewhere in their products once.
While La Ferla focuses on people being paid and gifted items, magazine editors also “borrow” clothes and accessories from their own fashion closets at work during fashion week. As we know, editors feel pressure to look good for street style photogs and that insecurity/vanity/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, along with companies looking for new, more effective ways to market their brands and agencies ready to capitalize on all of it, means street style isn’t really street style anymore. It’s practically an ad campaign that’s shot on the street.
Of course there’s still authentic “street style” out there. It’s just becoming harder to find. All in all, the whole thing kind of makes us less inclined to want to buy things that other people didn’t have to pay for, and makes me wonder how soon it will be before they just cut the charade of spontaneity and set up an actual red carpet in front of the tents.