The world we live in is a melting pot; full of individuals from different ethnicities, with a wide variation of body types, of all ages and from all walks of life. One thing we all have in common? Unique personal style exclusive to each and every one of us. In the beginning, street style was about real people and that’s why we loved it. But then real people became celebrities, and things changed. Today street style is a popularity contest, and it’s evident that inequality is prevalent. Street styles uncanny uniformity is clearer to those who don’t get their photos taken as often as others, it seems diversity has yet to catch on in the same way it has on the runway. Key players in fashion are using their platforms to callout important issues, yet street styles diversity problem remains unchallenged. Street style has the potential to celebrate all races, all shapes and sizes, and all genders. What once was an outlet for inspiration seems to be more outdated than ever, could this be because everyone we’re seeing looks the same?
Fashion week has become more calculated, and less personal. Take a minute and think about it; how many plus size, LGBTQ, or POC attendees do you see? And how many times do you see the same clichéd woman dressed head-to-toe in a full look? Sadly this is a reflection of the current state of the fashion industry, we’re seeing the same unconscious bias play out in street style scene as it did on the runways. Many still have a distorted idea of beauty; and are sending the message that POC, non-sample sizes bodies, and women in their 30’s 40’s and 50+ aren’t chic or stylish. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If all we’re seeing is one type of person being represented, what does this say about us? In order for street style to be more inclusive the conversation needs to be shifted as to why there aren’t more POC, more women with a range of body types, and more minorities populating the industry as well as attending the shows. Diversity has been a hot topic of late in fashion, so ask yourself this – if you browse street style imagery and you can’t see anyone who you share similarities with, what does this say about the culture we’re creating?
Street style used to be fun. It used to be about genuine style, waking up in the morning and putting on whatever you wanted because it made you feel good. But street style’s falling into a trap. It’s become about ticking off a checklist instead of capturing a moment that embodies originality – shoot the girl with the large following who you know will get reposted. Fashion is hugely competitive, so are people imitating each other’s dress sense simply to get snapped? Street style used to be about finding something out of the mainstream, seeing what real women are wearing to inspire the way we dress and to express our creativity. A colour combination unseen before, a print clash that you think wouldn’t work but totally does, an out-of-the-box accessory worn in an unexpected way… The list goes on. Now street style’s about validation. But take a look at @femmeplastic @munroebergdorf @greceghanem and you’ll see that you can freely express yourself and not have to fit the stereotypical mould in order to be successful. Street style gives the opportunity to those who wouldn’t get the chance to be seen in fashion have their time in the limelight, and to push the authentic style of everyday folks to the forefront.
We know stereotypes exist in fashion, we know 21st century beauty ideals are skewed and out-of-touch. As I’m seeing the same type of woman photographed again and again, it leads me to question whether or not street style has peaked? Have people lost their eye for what’s really interesting? Style doesn’t measure up to a certain body size, a particular age, or gender. The conversation surrounding diversity in fashion has reached a record high, it’s about time we stopped judging and started embracing our differences. Instead of playing the blame game, let’s have a conversation – we all benefit from discussing fashion’s biases. I hope that in continuing this discussion we stop and think about the roots of street style, and go back to celebrating it in its truest sense. As the industry becomes more open and accepting, street style will with any luck reflect that.
Written by J’Nae Phillips