Social media + one internationally loved boy band = a whole new kind of fan girl.
Let us explain.
You've heard of One Direction, right? The British boy band composed of five "lads" between the ages of 18 and 20 (which makes crushing on them totally legal, just sayin') was formed two years ago on the British version of the X-Factor after being rejected as solo acts. They're cute and funny, dress smart, and in just two years have churned out a major worldwide hit ("What Makes You Beautiful"), cultivating a massive and rabid fan base in the process. At least two of us here in the Fashionista offices are open Directioners - that's the name for One Direction fans for the uninitiated.
But we've got nothing on a new breed of "Directioners" that has cropped up on Tumblr.
Like us, they're into fashion. Unlike us, however, they are prepared, outfit-wise, for any type of encounter with a One Direction member--from the realistic (meeting Louis at a "Meet and Greet") to the far-fetched (going to Disney World with Liam). And if you've got a dream date in mind with your favorite One Direction member, these hard-core fans on Tumblr will be your personal stylist.
It's the new way to fangirl: bloggers with urls like "outfitsforonedirection.tumblr.com" and "1D-outfit.tumblr.com" take requests from followers, create outfit sets on Polyvore, and sometimes write short stories, called "preferences" or "imagines" to accompany the outfit. We found these blogs thanks to a piece on One Direction fans by Tumblr executive editor Jessica Bennett, who estimates that there are around 500,000 blogs solely devoted to One Direction. Even more impressive, One Direction is the single most popular tag in all of Tumblr, with over six-million posts since late May.
So how does it work? We investigated. Obviously.
What Makes You Beautiful Get on Tumblr, type any variation of "One Direction outfits" into the search bar, and you'll get hundreds of pages of results. Based on the FAQ sections of these blogs, many are run by more than one fan - all the better to keep up with requests - often girls between the ages of 13 and 17, with anywhere from 300 to 3,000 self-reported followers. Ideas for outfits range from the mundane to the extraordinary: airplane trips, sick days at home, Doctor Who conventions (really), red carpets, clubbing, and even weddings are all planned out for you. If you're curious what to wear to seduce your favorite band member or even spend the night with him, that's there too (which we find a bit scandalous, and also kind of obvious, no?).
Some of the outfits are incredibly detailed. One blog recommends black crackle nail polish and a black leather jacket for a grocery shopping trip with bad boy Zayn; going to Harry's hometown of Cheshire requires some YSL lipstick and a cream-colored lace dress. Some bloggers stay conscious of the budgets of their followers, sticking with brands like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters, while others don't hold back, picking labels like Elie Saab and Chanel (we're guessing the boys are picking up the tab on those outfits). Many boards often include references to band members' inside jokes and personal preferences: always bring a bag of carrots on a picnic with Louis (he once joked in a video he liked girls who ate them), while movie night with Liam means watching Toy Story (it's his reported favorite).
We reached out to a representative for Polyvore, who is excited but not surprised by the One Direction boards. According to the representative we spoke to, the majority of activity on the website is still very much straightforwardly fashion-focused, but they are increasingly seeing similar "imagine" style outfit boards at their website.
Apparently it all started four years ago when one member asked the rest of the community, "can you create 50 sets for these 50 themes?" From that, the "50 Theme Challenge" was born. Common themes at Polyvore can be as serious as the "50 Theme Hijab Challenge" and as creative as the prompt "What to wear when hosting SNL." Interestingly enough, One Direction themed boards are not as popular on Polyvore compared to people like Ryan Gosling and Johnny Depp - perhaps not surprising, since according to Polyvore's June Intelligence Report, just over 50% of vistors last month were between 19 and 34 years old, a bit older than the One Direction fanbase.
Breaking the "Fourth Wall" It's worth noting that in researching this piece, we reached out multiple times to some 20+ self-styled "outfit" blogs, and none of them have responded. Jessica was not surprised by this. "They are pretty pissed about us breaking the 'fourth wall,' [in our Storyboard piece]" she told us, referring to the fandom's self-policing policy of keeping everything within their community. It's a way of thinking that's a bit like "what happens on Tumblr stays on Tumblr" - they feel like the press portrays them as being crazy and that those outside the 1D fandom do not and cannot understand them. "It was as if the fans felt they had been 'found,' that we hacked into their secret world, and spied," Jessica tells us, saying that some fans even went so far as to send death threats to the ask boxes of Tumblr staff upon finding out about the piece.
She also shared with us that the One Direction fandom as a whole is unlike any other on Tumblr. There are many devoted fandoms on the blogging website, like the Harry Potter and Doctor Who communities, but that this is the first time outside of the sci-fi community that they've seen devotion on this level. "It's constant, and unending," she said, adding that it's impossible to keep up.
The occasional bout of insanity aside, we think these boards can be a fun way for fans to express not only their love for their favorite boy band but also their own personal sense of style, and when has that ever been a bad thing?
While we're kind of glad a record of what we would have worn circa 2000 doesn't exist - can you imagine the horror show of super low-cut, thong-revealing "destroyed" denim and cropped sequined halters? - we would have had a ball planning what we would have worn to prom with Lance Bass as our date (Yes, I was team Lance and I'm still totally gutted we will never date). Plus, we think some of these girls have great taste - we'd absolutely rock those colored skinny jeans, and we spied at least one Céline bag in the mix.
We picked out some of our favorite One Direction themed boards and included them in our gallery - do they inspire you to plan your outfit for that (imaginary) picnic with Ryan Gosling this weekend? Hey girl...