Written by Alex Vann
Every day, we as consumers are being bombarded with videos, flashing images, and advertisements depicting the socially acceptable forms of “self” expression and dress. As developed adults we tend to believe that we can see through these feeble attempts for society to define our sense of style but are we really all that aware of the everyday influences that affect our daily fashion decisions? Regardless of whether we are aware, our large and constant consumption of celebrity pop culture has a large influence on the ways we decide to visually express ourselves through apparel. Celebrities tend to act as representatives of lifestyles that we strive to be a part of and by dressing like celebrities we believe we inherit the lifestyles they express. When someone obsesses over Kate Middleton’s outfit at a charity event and attempts to recreate that outfit for themselves it isn’t solely because they liked the color and the cut of the dress. Middleton acts as a representative of a lifestyle of beauty and feminine empowerment, qualities that many women want to and aim to develop. That guy in your seminar class is wearing his Slipknot shirt because he wants to be a part of the “anti-society, I-don’t-care-what-you-think” lifestyle that they represent.
By going to school in the fashion hub of Los Angeles I am able to get a front row seat to the developments of urban street fashion and how today’s musicians and celebrities play a part in making and breaking trends. For example, though this has held true for years, large amounts of gray scale and primarily all-black colored outfits are being seen in street fashion as of late. Men are wearing black leather apparel over elongated t- shirts that create the appearance of a layered skirt or kilt. Skinner pant fits are being seen and tend to be matched with the latest pair of sportswear shoes (Air Jordans, Puma, Nike, etc.) and bomber/letterman jackets containing religious symbolism. The style has been dubbed “street-goth” due to the dark-colors and religious influences found in the style. This style and styles similar have rocketed in popularity in 2013, partially due to the increased popularity of rap artists such as Pusha T, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, and even Justin Bieber as of late. These artists and similar artists have created relationships with various designers/companies such as Hood By Air, Pyrex, Givenchy, and Alexander Wang; all of which have tendencies to create apparel that corresponds with the street goth style.
Examples of street Goth style.
As these artists gain recognition, so do the designers of their apparel. Through their music these artists create a lifestyle that correlates to street goth style, thus attracting their fans to the style. Due to the popularity increase of artists, many have adapted to the street goth lifestyle, spending a month’s paycheck to grab the latest piece from high fashion outfitters like Givenchy. For those who may not be able to afford the on average six hundred dollar t- shirts, alternatives have been found. Companies such as Stampd LA sell street goth approved apparel for somewhat of a cheaper price. A$AP Mob, merchandise designed by rapper and street goth influence A$AP Rocky, is also sold at a cheaper price and can be found at clothing store chains such as Urban Outfitters.
A$AP Rocky (Rapper) in A$AP Mob Merchandise.
While spending a semester of school abroad in London, I also was given the opportunity to observe UK fashion trends and the factors that influence them. One of the first things I noticed right off the bat was that the English street fashion is very much influenced by U.S. street fashion. In London I was constantly walking past street goths as well as people wearing popular brands from the LA street fashion scene. London, with its diversity of nationalities, is considered a “universal city” that is influenced by various different cultures. Partially due to the fact that the England and the U.S. share the same first language, the two tend to hold common interests in celebrities and musical artists. Since both countries share celebrities, it makes sense that the celebrities emit the same fashion influence in both countries.
Another big observation was the amount of formality found in London fashion. In London we see an increase of button up shirts and dress-styled shoes for both men and women. This may be due to the fact that as the capital and economic hub of England, London is the home of the royal family, Parliament, and various government officials. The leaders of the nation and “celebrities” of London, such as royal family members Prince William and Kate Middleton, hold power/influence and set the standard of dress of the nation, thus leading to the more formalized style of dress. This more formal style naturally influences what is found in English clothing stores. Because of the demand for formality, many English companies such as Topman and Primark show a focus on dress or “smart” apparel, creating formal styled outfits via in-house designers and selling for low prices. At a Primark store I was able to purchase an in-house made wool jacket with leather sleeves for about $40 U.S. whereas I may have had to spend over $80 U.S. if I were to purchase the same styled jacket from a U.S. streetwear company. We see this formality blend with street style on a daily basis in London, for example, an everyday outfit may consist of a chambray button up shirt, a pair of slim, drop-crotched sweatpants tapered at the ankle, and a minimalist pair of black and white Nike flyknit shoes.
Department store Primark gains popularity from having formal fashions for cheap prices.
Brands like I Love Ugly bridge formal high fashion with street fashion.
By no means is it being claimed that celebrities solely control the direction of fashion, but they definitely hold a strong influence, their opinion acting as the make-it or break-it factor for companies and designers. Observing the style of others, such as musicians and celebrities, gives us inspiration for our own personal style; that is arguably the beauty of fashion, the fact that it is something that can be shared with others. “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.”