It may sound trite but it must be said. We really miss street style.
Today’s pandemic precautions have warped the fashion calendar into a distant affair. Traveling is a hazy, far-off dream while the thought of being immersed in a crowd seems like a claustrophobic nightmare. Yet the absence of street style, in all of its creative glory, can’t help but be felt. Where runway was reserved for the elite, street style was accessible and approachable.
But apart from the flamboyant ensembles particular to fashion week, street style has always funneled down into the everyday. Fashion on the streets echoes a camaraderie that blooms from a mutual love for clothing. It’s always been a reminder that inspiration could be found anywhere, at any time, and on anyone.
Spotting street style isn’t exactly how it used to be, due to social distancing and less ventures outside. However, there’s a social media movement that’s still capturing the essence of the subculture, albeit with a catch: those at the heart of it just might not exactly know it and those who photograph them are, for the most part, concealed.
Hidden among Instagram’s well-known style photographers lies a stash of profiles that document fashionable people who aren’t actually aware of it. Its genius lies in a niche branding that throws social media perfection out the window and replaces it with a refreshing and relatable take on street fashion.
Casual quality snapshots of everyday people substitute high-definition photos of models, influencers, and the likes. Intimidating poses are switched out for truly candid shots (a consequence of intentional secrecy) and ordinary locales from the bakery and the grocery store to subways serve as the backdrop. All-in-all, its a game of anonymity.
This is a fairly new concept that thrives off of authenticity. It seeps with irony given the age of digital and the thousands of followers these accounts have garnered. But its content is a nod to the power of clothing and the sentiment of admiring outfits from afar (and in real life of course).
The trend isn’t exclusive. From Rome, Hong Kong, Brazil, Barcelona, and beyond, a plethora of Instagram users have hopped on the trend, eager to showcase the voguish charms their cities have to offer. Not surprisingly, it’s taken off in the fashion cities of the world too.
Milanesi a Milano (@milanesiainmilano) is an oasis for statement outerwear and fedoras while New York (@watchingnewyork) is an eclectic mix of layering and patterns. Care for an arrangement of trenches, leopard, chunky oxfords, and skater ensembles? Take a trip, or shall we say scroll, across the pond to Londoners in London (@londonersinlondon_). The curator of Parisiens in Paris (@parisiensinparis), who asked to remain anonymous, tells CR that their particular favorites are “cropped jeans, a pair of Dr. Martens, and a fitted jacket, in a herringbone or prince of Wales print”.
Sincerity plays a large part in the movement’s popularity and is embraced by both creator and follower. Parisiens in Paris was created in 2018 but its following accelerated after the city’s pandemic lockdown (it’s amassed 254K followers as of writing), which brought a longing for regularity and ordinary interaction – “back to reality” or “back to basics” its founder likes to call it. “I definitely think normality is the new norm versus gifted people, left right, and center,” they said of this new way of street style photography. It’s become so popular that 57 other accounts have reached out to them, asking to replicate the formula.
The five curators of Milanesi a Milano (two of whom answered our video call anonymously – very on brand) felt the same tug for the day-to-day occurrences of fashion. Their account, which has 44.2K followers as of writing, was inspired by Parisiens in Paris and started out as a joke. But like all good things that come from a good laugh, it reached unanticipated success in four months, being the first anonymous street style account in Italy. They think of themselves as trendsetters or crafting a kind of “…Gossip Girl but for street style…” in a sense.
Unexpectedly their backgrounds lie in communications, which has resulted in a carefully laid out marketing strategy on how they go about their profile. (They revealed that they keep their daily content at a maximum of two posts a day to keep their followers wanting more). But what fuels their work is their natural gravitation towards style, which they say is mirrored in a lot of girls in Milan who aren’t in the fashion industry. Because although Milan is a hotspot for fashion week, there’s a flourishing melange of styles that is pocketed in the city’s everyday routine that is equally as inspiring. Especially after the pandemic lockdown, which unintentionally turned patisseries and the supermarkets into makeshift fashion runways, the curators noticed. They strive for style diversity and they work through a web of fashionable content yet their overarching message is simple: “enhance normal people because we are normal people.”
Stylist Michelle Bellucci, the curator of Londoners in London (which has gained 35.8K followers since its creation in October last year), always took a liking to photographing London’s street style. But Parisiens in Paris also inspired her to create an account and actually share her photos. “Indeed, it is a new way of capturing street style in a natural environment – out of what is considered ‘mainstream fashion’,” she told CR. “People get dressed for themselves not to get photographed before [or] after a fashion show.”
While fashion week’s trends are various and provisional, here’s one to jot down: normalcy is in, idealism is out.
Even before the pandemic, street style capturers felt something missing. It was poised, expected, and carefully executed. It was everything but realistic.”I think this is the most true form of capturing street style,” said Johnny Cirillo, creator of @watchingnewyork. “New Yorkers have such a natural swagger that it’s nice to catch it in honest action. [As] soon as someone knows their photo is being taken, the attitude changes.” Cirillo started his account five years ago, inspired by the late street style photographer Bill Cunningham who was an expert of the trade. Cirillo’s style, like Cunningham’s, is more finessed in process and equipment but it no less holds the same sought after raw quality.
No matter the technique, location, or level of knowledge in fashion, it’s clear that an innate love for clothing practiced by everyday people has been the foundation of this movement from the get-go.
The long-standing community component of street style is also prominent on these accounts. For the most part, people who stumble upon their photos don’t mind that they’ve been shared with the world and this laid back attitude is partially why the trend has snowballed online.
“The reason why Parisiens in Paris has skyrocketed in numbers is because people spot themselves, or their friends spot them, and the response is huge. They all repost the images… super proud to have been taken anonymously,” the founder said. It’s even prompted followers to share their own findings (the account can rack up 30 submissions a day). It brings us back to the good old days when a simple outfit compliment could give us the ultimate serotonin boost.
For those in Milan, this very thrill has made Milanesi a Milano popular on the city streets. “[The people photographed] are often very pleased actually because it’s like an objective of many girls here in Milan,” said one of the contributors. “They’re like DMing us and saying ‘we really want to be spotted anonymously!'” Their account can receive up to 100 submissions a day from followers excited to contribute to their community.
For Cirillo too, the majority of people who have their photos taken are rather pleased but some instances aren’t exactly picture perfect. “Sometimes you get a message that says, ‘My girlfriend and I are big fans of your work, unfortunately in your newest post I’m holding hands with [someone who’s] not my girlfriend’,” he admitted. After that incident, he approached his work with a take-now, ask later mindset. But, even a great outfit can’t escape a little controversy.
One might wistfully fantasize of the days we can people watch – or mentally outfit scout? – freely. While the majority of us are harboring indoors for now, these accounts are answering our sartorial calls, bringing worldly style inspiration one anonymous photo at a time (thankfully sans jet lag and awkwardness).
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/fashion/a35585255/instagram-anonymous-street-style/
createdAt:Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:40:54 +0000
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