The Collective Conscious of Fashion
What do Milanese youth, the Editor-at-Large for Vogue Japan, and Kanye West have in common? With a distinctively stylish aesthetic, they all happen to catch the eye of esteemed fashion photographer Scott Schuman, author of the popular style blog, The Sartorialist. The site, alongside a myriad of similar digital style hives, offers viewers a glance into the collective fashion conscious of cities across the world, forever altering the relationship between people, place, and self expression.
In decades past, culture addicts, fashion aficionados, and sartorial insiders were typically the first to interact with the designer worlds of high fashion and global trend setting- and the first to solicit their fragmented conceptual analysis (and dilution) of runway, resort, and seasonal collections. What the lay person encountered was a fringe distillation of the inspiration and brilliance of international talent, offered at the whim of a handful of venerable publications, media celebrities, and the inventory at local clothing stores. Not to mention the more rural, isolated communities of distant nations were kept distant-- unless one traveled abroad, no immediate cultural exchanges pertaining to fashion, self expression or utility were had en masse.
Today, in the same browser window, individuals can watch live streams of Fashion Week on youtube, scope out what's trending in London at Facehunter, and act as personal stylists using real models and current designer (or otherwise modern) pieces on Looklet. The proliferation of recent trends in expression, merchandising, and identity is astonishing.
Technology has removed the iron curtain of fashion. Although Schuman was initially excited by the opportunity of facilitating a "two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life," many of his contemporaries have developed concepts that range from featured street wear stemming from the pride of place, as seen through Stockholm Street Style, to the borderline-megalomanic-invite-only-international-blog Lookbook.
This instant access to global community through the simple communication venues that blogs and websites create and inspire have caused similar recent revolutionary responses in music, politics, and ideology. Chillwave, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street are excellent examples of how the collective consciousness of our digital age has also thrived by supporting movements, immediate calls for action and exchanges of information.
Self expression is no longer restricted to place, limited production lines, or the dictates of the fashion industry per se-- instead, it is guided and unleashed by you, me, and our extended global network. By taking cues from one another (and the runway, of course), we may not only inspire boldness, creativity, and open-minded dialogue, but we are also able to uncover new ways of understanding the relationship between ourselves and the world around us.