The Evolution of Street Style

Spotlight / Editorial Spotlight
Christian Vierig
Getty Images
Mar 26, 2021
The pandemic's impact on the fashion industry stretches beyond the runway and onto the streets. 
Clashes of colour and prints. Fashion's elite marching arm‑in‑arm surrounded by photographers all eager to document their unique style. Iconic cities as backdrops to unofficial fashion shoots where high fashion meets everyday life. Street style offers a certain element of individuality that runways simply cannot. Unconstrained, influencers on the streets sport a mismatch of brands and collections—the epitome of street style aesthetics. Needless to say, the street has become an uninhibited extension of fashion house’s front rows ("FROWS") and runways alike.

With Fashion Weeks going predominantly digital and notable fashion houses like GUCCI and Saint Laurent absent from the schedule, how has street style been impacted by the global pandemic?
In 2020, searches for "street style" on decreased by 29% overall and in 2021, the year‑to‑data searches are down 60% compared to 2019 (seemingly the last hurrah for street style). 

But it's not all doom and gloom. In the month of September—a.k.a. fashion month—searches increased two‑fold and the search term “Fashion Week Street Style” rose 167% year over year. Customers are still looking for that elusive army of fashionable street stylers, even during a pandemic.
Instead of photographing glamorous guests, street style photographers are now hunting for striking outfits amongst people going about their day‑to‑day lives.
Despite having less opportunities to shoot because of stay‑at‑home mandates across Europe and many fashion shows going virtual, street style photographers still have found ways to thrive during the pandemic. “I had to adapt and to find new ways to document street style," says Paris‑based street style photographer Edward Berthelot. "Getting out of my comfort zone was positive as it allowed me to progress in several areas and innovate.”

Instead of photographing glamorous guests on their way to the front row, street style photographers are now hunting for striking outfits amongst people going about their day‑to‑day lives. The new quest is to find the beautiful in the everyday. “It is an interesting approach, as it is a return to the roots—popularized in the '70s by Bill Cunningham, who used to capture the styles of people in their daily lives in the streets of New York,” Berthelot explains.
In the last few years, searches for "authenticity" on have continued to grow as everyone from advertising to corporations have moved toward a new way of representing the world. We now see this impacting fashion—people want to see authentic representation of the world around us. What better way to capture that than on the streets of cities around the globe?

Since the world went on lockdown, street style has been forced to become more organised. Pre‑planned shoots are on the rise with fashion influencers still keen to strut their stuff and showcase their wonderful creations, whether in person on lonely streets or online with remote sessions.

Not only that, technology has opened up the world of street style, allowing photographers to capture moments from the comfort of their own homes. No travel required! “I recently had the amazing opportunity to work with an influencer based in L.A., while I was shooting from Paris,” Berthelot recounts of his innovative way to capture unique fashion moments. Technologies such as Zoom and FaceTime have become pivotal additions to the photographer’s kit bag.
But what of the unscripted, magic moments, which only happen at Fashion Weeks? "Less traveling [means] less variety, less spontaneity," Berlin‑based street style photographer Christian Vierig says, explaining that he believes Fashion Weeks will become physical again after the pandemic. "The fact of the matter is that fashion needs magical moments and they can only be created with people coming together. Celebrities, editors, models, influencers. Fashion needs communication, admiration, and atmosphere. Street Style photos are a way to freeze those moments and spread them around the globe.”

In the meantime, while the pandemic rages on and fashion settles into this new world order of digital presentations, the opportunities to create street style content still exist, we just have to look a little harder to find the magic.
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