Here's Why Street Style Needs A Serious Makeover

Here's Why Street Style Needs A Serious Makeover

by Melissa Magsaysay

Recent articles demand a call to action for street style to be more inclusive and diverse and we couldn’t agree more.

Take a quick scan of recent headlines about New York Fashion Week, which closed last week, and it’s clear that the runways are not the only thing that have traditionally lacked diversity

New York Magazine’s The Cut and Fashionista both published stories about the fact that street style, the paparazzi-esque popularity contest that occurs in the frenzy outside and between fashion shows, consist of the same thin, white editors and influencers from season to season.

And now that the shots taken on the street feel more accessible and are certainly more ubiquitous on social media than runway images, shouldn’t they reflect, well, the street?

Especially in New York, London, Milan and Paris, where the population (even the fashion show-going population) is more diverse and eclectic than almost any other given situation out there, why are the same select women swarmed after show after show, sometimes regardless of what they’re wearing and while women over a size 6 or over a certain age are overlooked and cast aside.

“Now 67% of American women are plus and black women are powerful consumers of luxury. That cannot be ignored.” Says stylist and brand consultant, Melissa Chataigne. “I understand the photographers snap who they know and you can't blame all photographers (as no one will be like Bill Cunningham), but I’ve been tired and frustrated to see the same white girls and 1 Asian included in all the fashion roundups or street style posts. Fashion has to change its ways, but consumers hold the power. If you don't like something, stop doing it. Stop supporting brands that don't support you.”

From a plus-sized influencer’s perspective, the trickle down effect of the dearth of non-sample size clothing is real.

Blogger Rochelle Johnson of Beauticurve

“Photographers are looking for specific looks, and it’s no secret that a lot of designers or PR showrooms loan or gift clothes to street-style stars for Fashion Week and those clothes are almost always sample size.” Says Nicolette Mason Co-Founder of Premme & Creative Consultant in The Cut’s article. “I’ve been invited to showrooms before to pull and whenever I’m like, oh cool, do you have things in my size? They’re like errr no sorry. I am definitely not sample size. So if I’m putting together a stylish outfit I’m putting myself together with whatever resources I have, essentially truer street style, that’s less marketable than all brand-new season, easily identifiable, designer clothes that you can turn into click-through shoppable content.”

Lindsay Peoples, the writer of the article on The Cut reflects on the causes of the fact that street style images are so homogenous. “In our own street-style photos from New York, out of almost 300 pictures, I counted only 29 of non-white men and women, with the same seven people repeated in that number. The sad truth is that we’re hardly alone in these staggering numbers. This was our failure as editors, and it is not the fault of any one person on our team including our street style photographer. But we know we have to change and do better.

The publications say it’s up to the photographer, the photographers say they’re just doing a job and aren’t given creative freedom, and the influencers say they have to go to extreme lengths to get noticed. Whatever is at the root of this, it’s clear that the purpose of street style is no longer about taking photos of well-dressed people to publish and share and inspire conversations about what makes a good look. It’s a calculated process of seeking out people on a checklist, and making sure to photograph people who have millions of followers regardless of their outfits.”

Read the entire story here (trust us, it’s a can’t miss piece and the next aspect of fashion that is overdue for change) and the Fashionista post here. Tyler McCall the writer of the article and deputy editor of the site has this to say, “The girls that these photographers are looking for are the ones being dressed by brands who don’t offer sizes beyond a 10 or a 12. I’ve seen so many stylish women over a size 6 at Fashion Week and you’ll watch them walk through a crowd of photographers who just stare at them.”

With the publication of these stories and the outraged, supportive and positive comments on social media in regards to them, it’s clear that the entire fashion industry is under serious scrutiny to change, include and redefine what beauty and style mean to more people, not the same narrow population it has been for decades, in order to evolve and survive.

Nicolette Mason Co-Founder of Premme & Creative Consultant


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