Street fashion is the post-fashion direction created in the cultural context at the beginning of the 21st century. This direction democratized the process of the emergence of the new fashionable trends and allowed the fashion non-professionals to create and show original images. The formation of the street fashion as an independent direction in the post-fashion is closely connected with an Internet blogging and digital photography, which priovided the conditions for the arrival of the alternative fashion-directed mass media. The street fashionists comprise the part of the new fashion leaders who combine the functions of the author of fashion and the model showing an image (English 2013). At present, the street fashionists can apply for the authorship in fashion. The analysis of the mechanism of the street fashion distribution both in society and in culture shows that the “trickle-up” theory ensures the ascension of the tendency from the streets to the podiums but not vice versa, like it occurs in the main fashion trends (Welters & Lillethun 2011). Street fashion is described as the global phenomenon that appeared in the Internet era.
Keywords: fashion, street fashion, culture, phenomenon, questionnaire.
The Phenomenon of the Street Fashion in the Culture of the 21st Century
The approach of the era of post-fashion determined the beginning of the 21st century. Among the inhabitants of the city centers there is the increase of the interest to style individualization. At present, the demonstrative consumption of fashion is replaced by the imperceptible consumerism. The new ideas and desires to have the ability to look fashionable are on the rise (Lopez 2016; Polhemus 1994). They have partially found reflection in street fashion. If there is a fairly limited list of urgent tendencies in the fashion industry every season, the infinite number of the improvisations is born in the realm of street fashion. As a result, the dictatorship of fashion is transformed into the global democracy of style in the mass culture (Lopez 2016; Twigg 2007). Although the street style as such in this or that view has existed for almost three centuries, street fashion arose in the 21st century. It became popular in 2006 owning to the success of the activities of bloggers and photographers who photographed the stylishly dressed people in the streets of big cities daily (Majima 2008; English 2013). The tastes and preferences of the ordinary people from streets won the interest of the Internet audience having an alternative view on the fashion. Owning to the Internet mass media, street fashion turned into a separate phenomenon of the modern culture (Wrigley & Lambiri 2014; Easey 2009; Polhemus 2010). The given research paper will reveal and analyze the main stages of the formation and development of street fashion at the beginning of the 21st century, as well as determine its characteristic features.
Nowadays, the clothes style of the residents of the world capitals and megapolises is one of the hottest topics in fashion journalism. A variety of the fashion journals and websites prove it. Currently, there are only rare scientific materials about street fashion although this fact is predicted to change in the nearest future (Durmaz 2014). In his book about street style Brent Luvaas (2016) states:
Street style blogging has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the last decade. Amateur photographers, often with no formal training in fashion, have become critical arbiters of taste and trends, influencing the representations that appear in magazines and on runways, and putting new cities on the fashion world map (2016).
The activity of fashion bloggers and photographers is based on three components – fashion, street, and photo. They merge together in the description of the street fashionists. However, the research field contains the gap concerning the features of the street fashionists in the world. This research paper is intended to fill it (Wrigley & Lambiri 2014). Therefore, the research aim and questions were formulated. The research aim of the given paper is to analyze street fashion as a modern phenomenon and define its importance for the modern culture of the 21st century.
Based on the aim of the work, the following research questions were composed:
- What are the prerequisites for the formation of the “street fashion” phenomenon?
- What does the term “street fashion” mean?
- What is the main function of the “street fashion” phenomenon and the mechanisms of its spread?
- What are the theories of infiltration?
- What are the sources of street fashion?
In the recent years, the approach to studying fashion as a sociocultural entity and the mechanism of the social, cultural and mental regulation closely connected to the main values and tendencies of the development of modern society prevail in the fashion industry (Kawamura 2006). The development and functioning of fashion on the large social scale was caused by such factors as the industrial revolution, the emergence of the mass flow line production, the strengthening of the geographical and social mobility, the growth of the cultural contacts, urbanization, the development of the means of communication, and global transport links (Durmaz 2014; Easey 2009).
Unlike the custom, fashion is oriented on the occurring events. However, the tradition makes an important source of the fashionable innovations, art creativity, discoveries, technical inventions, the creation of the new materials, etc. (Thomas 2013). The development of fashion has a cyclic character; its standards, replacing each other, pass the stages of formation, mass distribution and decline expressed in the reduction of the number of their adherents. They often do not disappear but are allocated with the fashion values (Majima 2008). Fashion is one of the sign systems by means of which interpersonal and intergroup communication is conducted. The communicative cycle in fashion consists, in particular, in the continuous circulation of the specific “messages” sent by the “producers” through the “distributors” to the final addressees – consumers (Polhemus 2010; Breward & Gilbert 2006). Only at the consumer stage, the potential fashion becomes real (Wyman 2015; Twigg 2007).
The existing primary material devoted to street fashion needs thorough systematization. Street fashion is not just the fashion of streets but a definite subculture of young citizens and fashionists who form their styles (Jiratanatiteenun et al. 2012). The so-called “theory of infiltration” is the cornerstone of the street fashion concept. There are three theories of infiltration of the fashion tendencies. H. Zimmel was the scholar who offered the first of them – the “trickle-down” theory in 1904 (Abbasi 2013; Partridge 2011). The theory assumes a certain scale of ranks based on which fashion is transferred from the elite to the masses. The phenomenon of fashion is considered as the double entity, covering both the inspiration of a person to express their identity and the desire to be a part of a crowd. Thus, according to Zimmel, fashion does not have any internal purpose (Partridge 2011). It is a social phenomenon and can be defined as the accession to role-models and the willingness to be equal with them.
The second “trickle-across” theory was offered by C. King in 1963 for the description of the method of the mass market distribution. According to it, the fashionable tendency makes the way from the leader of fashion to the followers in one social layer but not through different sectors of society (Joy 2012). The “trickle-up” theory of fashion distribution was developed by H. Field in 1970 (Abbasi 2013). At present, the theory works in accordance with the fashion mechanism, distributing fashion from the masses to the tops. The new fashion-related ideas appear not in the circle of fashion designers but among non-professionals. Therefore, the tendency of street fashion guarantees popularity among a large number of people (Kiapour et al. 2016; Kisfaludy 2008). All theories of distribution are based on the principle of the determination of the leaders of fashion and their followers. The definition of “street fashion” is based on the same theory: “street dandies” act in the system of fashion as the leaders who do not only extend its tendencies but also create new trends mixing various fashionable and unfashionable clothes (Lopez 2016; Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion 2010).
The sources describing street fashion are basically represented by the works devoted to the cultural aspects of the phenomenon of fashion in general. The significant contribution to the study of fashion from the point of view of the cultural science was made by the book of the professor of the London College of Fashion E. Wilson “Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity”. It is dedicated to the formation of fashion in the western society as a special cultural institute and the esthetic means for the expression of the ideas, desires and beliefs circulating among the public. Also, the author of the book gives the analysis of the impact of the urban environment on the clothes of citizens and a historical link of fashion to the city, which is the key moment of street fashion (Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion 2010). Elizabeth Wilson approaches the subject of fashion from the culturological point of view which allows seeing the influence of the processes occurring in the urbanistic culture on the clothes of residents (Wilson 2012). Fashion is the city phenomenon which had been closely connected with the formation of the urbanistic culture for centuries, from the moment of its origin in the 14th century (Ditty 2015; Welters & Lillethun 2011).
The given research paper has a cross-disciplinary character. The culturological approach is used as the basic one for the research of street fashion. The investigation of the sources of the global street fashion required the application of the historical, empirical and sociological methods. The historical method is the research method based on studying the origin, formation and development of the phenomenon of street fashion in the chronological sequence (Skov & Melchior 2008). The historical method allows understanding the researched phenomenon profoundly and is based on the identification and analysis of the contradictions in the development of street fashion, theories, and regularities of its progress. The empirical method is represented by observation – the obtainment of knowledge by means of sensorial perception. The scientific observation is the purposeful, organized perception limited to the subject domain and the research problem characterized by certain forms of the fixation of results (Skov & Melchior 2008).
The questionnaire was used as the method for the collection of the information about street fashion. Questionnaires presuppose that the respondents reply to the questions contained in them in the presence of the interviewer or without. By their form the questionnaires can be individual or group, internal or external, delivered via the newspaper, magazine or computer network (Harris & Brown 2010). The questionnaire is the main tool of polls and represents the sociological document containing the structural and organized set of questions each of which is connected with the problems of the conducted research. This way of communication between the subject and the researcher is expressed in the requirement to obtain the information reflecting the characteristics of the studied object. Questionnaires consist of several constituent parts, such as introduction, demography, main body and conclusion.
The questionnaire should start from the title page with the clear name reflecting the subject or the problem of a poll, the place and the year of its release, and the name of the organization conducting it. The introduction of this type of survey includes its goals and tasks, its meaning and the perspectives of the usage of the results. The demographics of the questionnaire consist of the questions concerning the social background and other characteristics of the respondent. As a rule, this section is located either at the beginning of the questionnaire, or in its end, followed by the expression of gratitude to the respondent for the participation in a poll. Some researchers consider that the demographics at the very beginning of the questionnaire can arouse mistrust to the sociologist and doubt in the valid anonymity of a poll and affect the sincerity of answers. At the same time, the arrangement of the demographics at the beginning of the questionnaire is justified psychologically as it allows increasing the complexity of questions gradually, especially if it is a computer-based survey with automatic adjustments to the level of the respondent (Harris & Brown 2010).
The main part of the questionnaire consists of the issues connected with the main goal and research tasks, and also the procedure of filling it. The sequence of the questions, their formulation and graphic design are of great importance. The text of the questionnaire is usually adapted to the level of culture and education of respondents. The use of schemes or tables can focus the attention of participants on the research questions. Moreover, in this particular case, the questionnaires give the partakers the chance to look at the phenomenon of street fashion from the point of view of its heroes. Such types of sources as the culturological fashion researches, books-albums of street fashion, popular articles as well as the Internet mass media were used in the given research paper.
To sum up, fashion is the thinnest and the most correct indicator of the characteristic features of the society, a small but defining part of a person, the name card of a country, national distinction, the way of thinking, the vector of thoughts, ideas, and the basis of various professions. Each country has its own specific fashion. However, street fashion has common features in all world regions. The modern street fashion is the combination of the street life and the ultra-fashionable ideas of designers, people with a creative mindset, and those whose vision of contemporary clothing trends is extraordinary and frequently ahead of the time.
The given research aimed to prove that the beginning of the 21st century is characterized by the high-quality changes in the system of fashion. The most essential of them are connected with the emergence of the new phenomenon – street fashion. It is becoming the global entity influencing the industry of fashion and playing an important role in the course of the definition of its tendencies. At present, the life rhythm of people changes the fashion face and it gains new features. At the same time, street fashion always strives for the mobility, expediency, convenience, practicality, freedom and naturalness. The method of questionnaire was used in the research paper for the profound analysis of street fashion as a cultural phenomenon since it is the sure way of obtaining genuine first-person data from people having the direct relation to the research topic.