(Fashion Blogger: Susie Bubble of Style Bubble, image via Refinery29)
“Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion” cites Shibuya 109 salesgirls as trendsetters, who have power over their peers -- “the salesgirls are so influential in setting the new trends that the teens would buy the exact same outfit that the salesgirl is wearing.” Furthermore, many salesgirls “contribute to the buying of merchandise and designing for the store labels” because they know exactly what their peers want. These salesgirls are so important that they become known as icons/role models, appearing in street fashion magazines and more.
Immediately, this reminded me of fashion bloggers. According to CNN, fashion bloggers are able to draw in readers by posting up personal outfit photos. Fashion bloggers have been able to attract large readerships (presumably teenage girls, like those who follow Shibuya salesgirls), as well as labels, designers, and other fashion gatekeepers. For example, Rumi Neely (of the blog Fashion Toast) “who lives in San Diego and majored in political science, has designed a dress and a tank top for RVCA, modeled for the line's fall look book and ad campaign and signed with NEXT Model Management” because of the fan base that she acquired from her personal fashion blog. Similarly, Jane Aldridge (18-year old fashion blogger of Sea of Shoes) can cite “Kanye West among her fans and is working on her own shoe line.” Although not mentioned in the article, many other fashion bloggers have attained success in the fashion industry (through modeling, designing, magazine features, etc), as well. Like Shibuya salesgirls who became designers, bloggers do not typically have fashion degrees or industry experience. Instead, they are alluring because they understand street fashion from an insider perspective.
Personally, I really like the concept of fashion blogs. I think that bloggers are much more appealing than celebrities/magazines because they are relateable. Everyday people can read a fashion blog and understand someone who has an interest for fashion, but also still leads a normal life. Similarly, I can see why Shibuya salesgirls would become such big icons, because Japanese teenagers can feel like they understand where they come from. In this sense, by being able to influence readers and teens from various subcultures, Shibuya salesgirls and fashion bloggers are democratizing fashion. They are demonstrating that trends/style/aesthetics are not simply guided by legitimized gatekeepers, but that it can emerge from the streets, as well.
Yet at the same time, I think that this “relateable” appeal of Shibuya salesgirls and fashion bloggers can be used by labels to sell their products. For example, if a fashion blogger becomes really popular, designers can send them free items to wear. And once they wear it, their readers will want it too (and the label will profit from it). Likewise, Shibuya 109 would have their salesgirls dress according to a monthly theme and “many customers would purchase [those] items,” because they wanted to dress like the salesgirls. In this way, companies are able to use the influence of salesgirls/bloggers for their own benefit. Unfortunately, this can detract from the organic appeal of street fashion and fashion blogs. However, I think that street fashion/fashion blogs can maintain its integrity as long as these icons (salesgirls, bloggers) are able to stay true to their own personal sense of style, and not just do whatever labels dictate.
(Fashion Blogger: Rumi of Fashion Toast, image via Refinery29)30-Day Challenge Update: I haven't broken the challenge yet! Yay! A few days ago, I went to Arden Fair Mall, and I found everything to be so unappealing. It wasn't even a challenge for me to not shop because 1) the clothes that I could afford looked poorly produced, cheap, and it was obvious that they would fall apart after a few washes, 2) the clothes that did not look cheap (high quality, designer garments) were completely out of my price range. After this challenge is over, I probably won't shop as much as I used to. I'm starting to realize that I don't need a lot of clothes, and that it's more fun to find different ways to put together outfits, from garments that I already own. I have a strong interest in fashion, and I want to express it in a different (and smarter) way, than just buying tons and tons of disposable clothing.
Inside Source: Yuniya Kawamura. "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." Reader.
Outside Source: http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/22/smallbusiness/fashion_bloggers_go_into_business.smb/index.htm