And the fashion circus debate continues.
The latest to weigh in is Garage magazine–except instead of bemoaning or celebrating the street style phenomenon one way or another, they merely explore it in this thoughtful new video featuring Tim Blanks, Tommy Ton, Phil Oh (in a bathtub!), Susie Lau and many others.
As one might expect, opinions run the gamut.
Blanks, for one, is pretty obviously tired of the whole thing. “In a funny way [the street style phenomenon] is empowering but it’s empowering in the way that reality TV is empowering,” Blanks says. “It makes monsters. It doesn’t make gods.”
Fashion designer and Russian street style star Vika Gazinskaya, on the other hand, sees street style as an opportunity to promote young designers. “I always say, in all the interviews, it’s a great opportunity for the young designers who have no budget for advertising.”
Alexia Nieziedski, co-founder of Ever Manifesto thinks that bloggers have a lot to offer–there’s just so many of them nowadays it’s hard to know which ones are worth listening to.
But even Blanks concedes that at one point, bloggers and street style stars did add value to the industry. “I found it charming [in the beginning.]” Blanks says. “I thought for so many different people to be so enthusiastic about fashion, it’s good for fashion, it’s good for the industry. This season, I just thought, ‘Oh enough.’”
Phil Oh (who was inexplicably interviewed while having a bubble bath) is also wistful for a time when street style wasn’t such a scene. “I started looking at the photos I took in 2007 and 2008. And it almost brought a tear to my eyes seeing the Tuileries completely empty…when I could build a rapport with the people I was photographing,” he says. “Now it’s trench warfare.”
And that seems to be the real gist of the video. Street style can be inspirational and valuable–but it seems to have crossed some sort of line this year. Now there are so many photographers at the shows–literally hordes of them–that competition to get that one great shot can be fierce. We’ve heard of photographers (some well known) pushing others out of the way or starting fights in the street. “You should see what I have to do to meet my photo quota,” one street style photog told me.
It also means that, with the ratio of photogs to true street style bait getting increasingly out of whack, “you see the most banal people getting photographed now,” according to Blanks.
But the elite street style photographers–Tommy Ton, Phil Oh, Tamu McPherson–don’t snap banal. They’re selective, in-demand, and getting shot by them is considered a real coup. Which means they wield a lot of power–perhaps sometimes even more power than the editors and style stars they’re shooting. “I’ve heard all sorts of funny stories about what people will do to get photographed by Tommy,” Blanks said. “People who obviously court it–I feel embarrassed for them.”
One thing is for sure: The street style landscape is practically unrecognizable from what it was just a few years ago. How it will evolve from now on is anyone’s guess. But the video below is certainly asking all the right questions.