On Sunday night, Vogue.com published a story in which four editors shared their highs and lows from Milan Fashion Week. Highs ran the gamut from Bottega Veneta to Prada but the low was unanimous. Sally Singer, the site’s creative digital director, blasted bloggers (influencers, street style stars, Instagram famous people — whatever you want to call an individual who gets paid to wear clothes) for changing multiple times in a single day, lamenting that they were “heralding the death of street style.”
Fashionista then covered the responses from Susie Lau of Style Bubble (“Bloggers who wear paid-for outfits or borrowed clothes are merely doing the more overt equivalent of that editorial-credit system”) and Bryanboy (“I’d have a bounty for my head if I name-checked all the editors who told me they only go to certain shows because they’re advertisers”). But the reason I bring this up is neither to substantiate nor refute the involved parties. I was in the middle of writing this very story, Have We Reached Peak Style?, when I read the Vogue piece. And it got me thinking about my thesis: that we’re in a state of hyper-stimulation and because of that, we see these clothes through the lens of indifference.
The story’s conclusion was still a moot point when I started to write. Whose fault is peak style? Is it anyone’s fault? Is it really so bad? But maybe this isn’t peak style so much as it is trying to understand why we try too hard. (I wrote that sentence before I read the blogger takedown in Vogue.) It was born out of a culmination of feelings (or a lack thereof) that came up during and after London and Milan Fashion Weeks.
At the end of the New York season, I wrote a story called “Street Style Feels Authentic Again.” I further went on to write this, describing my own fashion week outfits as less contrived and more me. So maybe, I surmised, this newfangled sense of authenticity — still valid in London and Milan — was no longer contributing to the wow-effect of street style slideshows past and that’s why I wondered if we’d reached peak style.
Then again, though, there are the people whose style never gets old. Look no further than proof-of-concept Viviana Volpicella above, with her red bandana and gold pants. She so implicitly understands herself in this delightfully satisfying, I-just-am kind of way.
So let’s rule out death-by-authenticity. That seems unlikely.
Instead, let’s go back to the trying-so-hard bit, but try not to knock it and instead understand it. Yes, there are full looks at fashion week. Yes, people get paid to wear clothes (disclosure: I do not get paid to wear clothes during fashion week), but if brands want to pay people to serve as human billboards, what harm does that cause you or me? What trouble does it really incite in the grand scheme of getting dressed? How are bloggers who show up at shows in full looks any different from, say, celebrities who do the same? They’re just doing their jobs! So let them live.
We are lucky in that we have access to so much information, but are perhaps unlucky in that we haven’t figured out what to do with all of it yet. This is particularly true in fashion, and with street style photos. We don’t have to love them all. We shouldn’t expect to feel delighted by every photo that pops up in front of us. Imagine the internet as a grocery store and you are the shopper. You’re not going to buy produce you wouldn’t eat, right?
It never has been, and shouldn’t become, our prerogative to turn fashion media into a takedown, so let’s not do that.
I’m going to rescind my question; we have not reached peak style. We just haven’t figured out how to edit our feeds. Until then, though, I’ll say it again. Let them live!