|At Clothing Event, an indie fashion expo in Bandung, Indonesia|
There was a moment, probably around 2006 or 2007, when street style blogs appeared poised to overturn the longstanding domination of fashion's world cities — i.e., New York, London, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo — over street style. Exciting new blogs were covering cities no one had ever thought of as fashion cities before, whether Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Capetown, or even Jakarta. These cities, at least temporarily, became something like cool, and a crop of creative entrepreneurs stepped in to cash in on these cities' newfound cachet. Street style blogs were helping democratize fashion.
And then something funny happened. Street style blogs got really popular. And as they got more popular, some even became profitable. Hobbyist bloggers became professional bloggers, and professional bloggers have to make a living. Many took on paid sponsors. Many started selling pics to magazines to make a living. And magazines, as you probably already know, want lots of pictures on a short timeline, and preferably pictures of established style icons. And so street style bloggers went to the places they knew would yield such results: New York, London, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. And they didn't just go willy nilly. They hit up the events that stocked up on style icons just for them: the fashion weeks.
So much for democratizing fashion. Fashion's old world order remains firmly intact. And for those billions of people who happen not to live in one of fashion's world cities, too bad.
But there's more than one way to respond to the continuing domination of New York et al. You can pine for the great beyond, or you can work on developing your own fashion scene from within. Certainly that's what many Indonesians have done, developing a substantial personal style scene, a local independent fashion network. And more importantly for this blog, that's what Philadelphia has done. Philly is cultivating its own expansive community of fashionistas, including bloggers, designers, journalists, and connoisseurs. It's cool stuff, and it's been exciting to get back to it. I'm looking forward to hitting the streets — and events — of Philly again shortly.
But first things first. This week is the start of New York Fashion Week, and I've got a research project to do. I'll be hitting IFBCon on Wednesday and Thursday before walking the cold cold streets with the style icon-hunting blogeratti. Look out for updates and pics here. And watch as my numbers plunge again.