It’s strange to recall the early days of street style. Think: The Sartorialist, All The Pretty Birds, Tommy Ton. The sites were essentially blogs. Most of the influencers were, in fact, fashion editors themselves: Kate Davidson Hudson, Kate Lanphear, Giovanna Battaglia, Anna Dello Russo. A few influencers, as we know them today, were getting front-row seats — and ruffling feathers in the process. Think: BryanBoy, Leandra Medine…
Many of these sites pre-dated Instagram, which launched in 2010. For example, The Sartorialist launched in 2005, the same year Tommy Ton created Jak & Jill, his own blog.
Last season, as showgoers reconvened after lockdowns, the front rows were flooded with a new kind of influencer: the TikToker.
At its best, street style serves a purpose. It’s not just to drum up envy in the viewer, but it’s also to inspire. And, if the featured pieces are tagged or otherwise identifiable, it can spur significant sales. All of these factors have transformed the meaning of street style.
“Street style is more relevant now than ever before,” said Chriselle Lim, influencer and entrepreneur. Lim has been attending global fashion weeks for the last decade, give or take. “When I first started, there was street style happening. But it was focused on what the big editors and the big fashion houses were doing, versus on the people who were attending. But now, it’s quite the opposite. I think what’s happening now is that people are looking at the street kids and the showgoers, at what they’re wearing, and really figuring out how they can also adopt more of a street style look.”
According to Kate Davidson Hudson, who is now the editor-in-chief of LuisaViaRoma’s magazine, LVR, “The impact of social commerce cannot be underestimated.” She referenced a January 2022 Accenture report, which stated, “Social media shopping is projected to reach $1.2 trillion USD by 2025.” It’s currently valued at $492 million USD, “so it’s growing at a compounded rate of 26%, primarily to Gen-Z and millennial shoppers,” she said.
To seize that opportunity, LuisaViaRoma has introduced Visual Search Functionality, an enhanced search tool that allows shoppers to find pieces emulating their favorite looks, by uploading a photo. “It takes the friction out of searching for the street style looks we see in our social media feeds,” Davidson Hudson said. “It’s another way to tighten the loop between aspiration and access, which editorial street style content and social content are so great at cultivating.”
Street style’s appeal has always stemmed, at least in part, from being more accessible than the often out-of-reach, less wearable looks that go down the actual runway. And, according to both Lim and Davidson Hudson, its impact has been so great that street style often now inspires the runway, rather than the other way around. “In some cases, the street style influencers and photographers are now just as directive as the runways and the established publishing media houses.”
Lim also spoke to the shift that has occurred over the last decade. “[Ten years ago,] everyone was looking at what these big houses were creating, and we were taking trends and adapting those for the street.… But now, it’s quite the opposite. Fashion [fans] look at what people are wearing on the street.”
She cited the new Fendi sneakers as an example of a fashion house borrowing from street style. “That wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago,” she said.
It’s all part of the continued democratization of fashion. Where once, street style coverage was ruled by a select few aforementioned photographers, today, anyone with an iPhone can be a street style photographer. “These random people who have access to a camera … are quite talented. They can snap a photo of you and tag you on Instagram — this now happpens all the time — and the next season, I’m working with them as my in-house photographer, because I love their work.”