The Myth of Street Style

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The phrase “street style” is present in multiple sites, ranging from magazines, exhibitions, blogs, academic texts, and in popular parlance; its association with quirky individuality is one that arises out of its own mythologized and popularized histories. This article aims to interrogate what the current myth of street style is and the relationship this has to the everyday practices of assemblage. It is based upon an ongoing mass fashion observation (MFO) of young people in Nottingham which, through photographs and interviews, aims to document what the various style groupings are, and how these change over time. By taking the approach of documenting street style as an everyday practice, this article makes a case for considering “street style” not solely in terms of the histories of street style, but also considering fashion magazines, clothing sold on the high street, localized style groupings, and how individuals assemble their own outfits. The article points to a shift in street style towards subtly differentiated style groupings which incorporate mainstream, high street fashions. In looking at how styles change over time, it also challenges the use of “fast fashion” in relation to the purchasing and wearing of clothing, as this conceals the complexities of practice.

Keywords: everyday fashion; fast fashion; high street; mass observation; street style

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: March 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.

    Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.
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