Fashion Bytes

About two weeks ago, The New York Times Online featured a discussion on the globalisation of street fashion.  Valerie Steele, among others, contributed a piece which suggests that with the internet and globalization there has been a homogenization affect on street style. It is no longer unique.  This is a sentiment that seems to be echoed in Rei Kawakubo’s quote this past week that the current generation/trend is for fast-fashion and “to look like everyone else”.

It is true that now a google image search of the terms “cosplay” or “gothic lolita” is just as likely to bring up images of teens in Helsinki imitating those in Harajuku who originated the style, and that many of The Sartorialsit’s photos seem to have certain dêja vu quality, but is it really having as strong an affect as Steele and Kawakubo suggest?

What is your opinion of the discussion, and of Kawakubo’s statement?  Is there more variety that the media simply does not show? Is the internet and globalization a source for innovation, or a source for homogenization?

Please share your thoughts.

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  • wazzra September 09, 2011 12.43 pm

    Real innovation comes from creative individuals, not from the internet.
    Before the street was the way to show the result of our sartorial experiments and in a finite population, it seemed much more unique. But how many people, in how many different cities, were actually putting together a similar assemblage without anyone knowing about it? The Internet was just an eye-opener.

    Most of what we sees online can still be categorized… Think about Gala Darling-Betsey Johnson bubblegum happy life, hipster-looking-streetstyle –Sartorialist carefully “unintentionally” put together, Sea of Ghost-Haute Macabre dark but elegant attire… Even when you find someone who clearly develops their own look most likely you’ll see them referring to a higher influence or trend. Yes we are all trying to be so unique, so different, so original… but as human animals, the herd instinct comes back, and the Internet is the perfect landscape for it. It’s also quite difficult to ‘stay hidden’, every community now using Internet to share ideas and aesthetics… As you mentioned, even ‘underground’ communities like the Lolita world are widely expanded online but when we look more closely at this peculiar community you suddenly see differentiation pops out: a visual difference between Westerner lolitas (Country lolita), North European lolitas and ‘original’ lolitas from Japan. All influenced by the original style but making it their own, using the internet a shopping ressource (where we could see homogenization) but turning it into an individual combination of garments.

    Well, maybe not. Now, fashion blogger also teams up with low-key stores (thinks Forever 21, H&M) and their look suddenly become more affordable, closer the their reader’s budget… Which allows them to run to the said store and get said items, recreating “blogger streetwear”. Of course, among those inexpensive clothing pops out big tickets shoes or purses, symbol of their still unattainable lifestyle. It’s, somehow, the 21st century’s version of “get this style for cheap”.

  • Anastasia September 11, 2011 06.55 pm

    A lot of the homogenization you see in clothing across different cultures may be that clothing itself is mass created; so from a limited pool of clothing, everyone chooses. Much of what we see today is a regurgitation of the same clothes, being combined differently. How many of todays sartorialists’ make their own clothes, not just reworking mass-market items? Until people actually have a hand in creating their clothes, we will see the same things, be it in magazines, the internet, books, or real life.

    In the past you could, and did, make your own clothing; either from patterns, or free hand from what you see, or based on your individual needs. There was a unique voice, there always is when you create. Even though these clothes were similar in different regions, due to a human need for community and acceptance through similar appearances, every region differed; you could tell a persons identity and history through their clothes. Can you say the same today?


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