The fashion world has really felt the corona pandemic on its body.
Retail, which was already in crisis, is worse off than ever and sales figures are plummeting for both clothing chains and luxury brands. The fashion people who pre-corona had 200 travel days a year, like everyone else, have had to stay at home, and fashion week after fashion week has moved online.
Zero audience also means zero street style, and the circus with street style photographers sprinting around posing influencers who sport more outfits per day than most wear in a week has subsided.
But what happens when society opens up and the invitations to the shows no longer contain a link but a physical address?
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Influencer: – I miss the fashion week crowd
– I have been in the game and traveled at the fashion weeks since 2011. During those years, there has been a huge change, both in terms of the number of photographers and people who are involved in it all, says Annabel Rosendahl.
She is a former buyer for Høyer with 120 travel days a year, but in 2017 chose to invest fully as a freelancer through influencing.
Since then, she has built up a career and seen the number of followers grow through her presence and visibility at fashion weeks.
– It eventually became a violent sea of people outside the screenings, she recalls.
According to Rosendahl, it all peaked in 2018. It was the year fashion writer and editor-in-chief at D2 Anders Kemp wrote a case where he followed her during the fashion week in Paris. With her, she apparently had two large suitcases full of clothes borrowed from different brands.
– Traveling at fashion weeks has helped to build up my profile and I am very grateful for the publicity I have received, she says.
– But then it is interesting to see how a year without that type of publicity and travel has affected my job. And the fact is that I still work with all the same brands, only virtually. They send me clothes that I get dressed up in and then I stream the shows from home, and then send them back again. This has become a new way of working.
– Street style photos have been replaced with me taking the photos myself.
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In the D2 article, Rosendahl said that she gets an adrenaline kick from being photographed outside the shows.
– Yes, and I miss it! I miss the whole fashion week, the chaos, the feeling of watching a show physically with the music and the atmosphere. You can not get that at home in front of the Mac, you can say. I really hope we go back to that.
– Some will probably think: “I’m done”
Whether street style will return to the way it was before the pandemic, she does not know.
– Either it will go back to it, just as if nothing has happened, or I think there will have been a change. But there is, after all, a business in it, because even though I do not necessarily make money from being photographed outside the screenings, this is what street style photographers make a living from. They have lost their jobs under the corona, and hopefully found new ways to go.
– I guess some of the really big ones might be thinking: “Okay, I’m done. Now this is a chapter gone for me ». But where there are opportunities to make money, there will always be young, hungry new people. Many of the largest fashion magazines hire people to take street style photos for them in particular.
She thinks it will still be needed. She thinks that some magazines miss just that type of content now.
– This type of image is often used in trend cases, shopping cases, style tips and the like. I often get messages on Instagram from people who have seen a streetstyle photo of me in some magazine on the other side of the world, in one context or another. This type of image is often used, and is part of the reason why I do not think this will stop completely, she explains.
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– Does not make money
Influencer colleague Janka Polliani is also part of the Norwegian fashion gang that travels around all the biggest fashion weeks
– I have been with the last ten to twelve years, from when there were few photographers present until it completely took off with hundreds of street style photographers outside shows.
– The brands have a ceiling on how many influencers there is room for at shows. It’s all about contacts, networks and what relationship you have with the designer.
When it comes to who is most dependent on the street style game’s continued existence, Polliani thinks it’s a good mix.
– The magazines buy pictures of the photographers and that is exactly it big business.
She herself does not make money on street style.
– It is not a collaboration I do during the fashion weeks.
However, the Norwegian influencer thinks things will go back to what they were.
– But the views will still be sent digitally to reach wider. I have experienced that photographers get in touch to do street style via Teams. The magazines need content and the photographers will still sell pictures.
Still, she points out that street style is not as important to her as it once was.
– But it has become a natural extension of going to shows. Because I love being inspired by the style of others and by the circus outside the shows.
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– Maybe it’s okay if the pandemic runs a self-referential advertising stunt
– The first thing that strikes me is how influencers have taken or possibly been given ownership of the term street style. In other words, what was once considered an alternative and a counterculture to the established has become a tool for marketing, says Pia Henriksen, fashion scientist at OsloMet.
– Maybe the corona will be what puts the nail in the coffin for street style. But it depends on how the design brands choose to show collections after this. Influencers follow. They are not the ones setting the agenda.
According to her, influencers are just a window for product placement.
– Street style neither arose nor dies with the influencers. I think it is important to highlight that street fashion is not the same as product placement or an imitation of what is shown on the catwalk.
That type street style which is about getting attention with artificial and staged images of himself outside the screenings, Henriksen believes was quite saturated and in the process of playing his role before the corona.
– Phenomena are dynamic and in motion, so it is guaranteed that something else will occur, in a different form. There is little street smartness and authenticity in the influencers’ street style variant.
– It might be okay if the pandemic runs a self-referential advertising stunt.
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– The fashion phenomenon has been dying for a long time
– It probably started when the influencers, who characterized the room outside the fashion shows, became the most important advertising posters for the industry – with press agency outfits offered to the hotel before the show. Everything that is fun with fashion – the unexpected, critical, playful – was in a way gone overnight, and further devalued via sponsored posts.
Then suddenly it was as if no one really cared anymore, at least not about street style. The whole thing had become an arena for “professionals”, and suddenly it became more exciting to stand in the kitchen and cook ambitious food or run after a dog on narrow cross-country skis, Kemp believes.
– With the corona, we are definitely there then. All people seem to care about is home, food and outdoor life.
With that said, when things are strongly devalued, there are often counter-reactions, as with punk, and I think I see some signs that there is some life left. For example, how the big fashion houses now find inspiration elsewhere than creating fashion tailored for social media, as they did with Gucci’s color scheme or Balenciaga’s big bubble jackets.
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Kemp believes that fashion houses are being inspired by the lives of ordinary people out there again, rediscovered via Instagram during the corona pandemic.
– It may seem like glitz, staffing and deconstructed fashion must give way to something more bullshit-free. Clothes that take into account our new needs. It’s both a bit interesting, and gives hope that even streetstyle may not be completely over?
– But as an industry, where 200 photographers elbowed their way outside the barricades to the screenings to get the best picture of Anna dello Russo, for which they could take many hundreds of dollars, where there was a queue of media companies ready to publish. Of course, we will hardly see that again.
Adam Katz Sinding: – It has been hypercommercialized in recent years
Among the most famous streetstyle photographers is the man who previously called himself Le 21eme. Now he goes by his own name Adam Katz Sinding or just the initials AKS.
For years, he has taken pictures for Vogue and others and made himself known through his distinctive closeups. Sinding has built up a meaty following on Instagram. At present, it counts almost half a million, which is far more than many of the biggest Norwegian fashion influencers.
He tells Melk & Honning that he counts 2017 and 2018 as peaks for street style mania.
– The whole thing has been hypercommercialized in recent years, which has made the whole thing much less authentic and quite a lot more boring.
– When people are paid to wear something rather than authenticity when you actually wear something because you wanted to wear it, then the whole thing changes, he says.
– It’s not boring too me. I like it. But it is not the same fun longer.
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He thinks it has slowly but surely gone in that direction.
– You see the same people outside the shows year after year, and loved their style because it is real and unique. Then they suddenly appear in a full look from Valentino or Dolce & Gabbana, and you think: “Wait a minute, you’ve never been to Dolce before ?!”. They always wore Acne or Jil Sander and then suddenly they are wearing a floral lace dress.
However, he does not convict anyone for trying to make money that way.
– So, good for you if you can get paid from a brand or get a type of exposure. But it takes away some of the excitement for us.
According to him, the rest of the street style photographers completely agree.
– It is also not particularly interesting for our customers when people wear full looks from brands. So the pictures are salable, but it does not show any particular degree of creativity, if you understand what I mean?
– It becomes more difficult to sell photos for trend items, for example. Because many of the looks people wear just come straight from the catwalk.
Sinding, which is based in Copenhagen, has noticed the corona crisis.
– I practically did not earn anything all last year, and it goes on the stumps for me financially. But now things are starting to pick up on the job front, so hopefully things are going better going forward.
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When it comes to the future of the game he has been a part of for a number of years, Sinding says that at the beginning of the corona pandemic he had high hopes that things would actually change in the long run.
– But now I think it will come back even stronger. Maybe there will be a period at the very beginning where people will try to show consideration by keeping their distance, wearing masks and things like that, but eventually it will be exactly as it was before the pandemic.
According to him, the only way it can change is if there is a marketing profitable angle to tone it all down.
– Who is the one who gives the most value for money for the brand to have present at the show? It is most likely the influencers. They contribute to a lot of visibility.
– I also think that the influencers will be the first to travel again. Buyers and the fashion press like to work for large companies that are concerned about their reputation and do not want to seem insensitive by sending people on a trip too soon. While influencers are only responsible for themselves.
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