Over the last few weeks, there have been announcements of the digitization of several Fashion Weeks, currently, the only possible solution in times of pandemic, an alternative inaugurated by the Asian FW, the first to be strongly affected by the spread of COVID-19, and now also adopted from the Fashion Weeks in London, Milan and Paris. While doubts persist as to what extent digital events can actually replace physical ones, another aspect of these events, which has become increasingly central in recent years, must be also considered: street style.
As time went by, the pictures taken outside the shows have gained an increasingly important value, not only for aesthetic reasons but above all for commercial reasons: those shots are the basis of trend analysis, market research and influencer marketing operations. In light of the latest developments, and in the context of an industry that needs and has been asking for a radical restructuring for some time, it is right to ask ourselves what the future of street style photography will be.
A transition year
One could summarize in these words the thought of many street style photographers towards the future of their job, the upcoming months will be difficult, empty in some ways, but they will not mark the end of this sector in its entirety. “Although the situation is very bad and the future is uncertain for everyone, I think the street style will survive the crisis, just because it is part of the industry, part of the fashion circus”, has declared to nss magazine Julien Boudet, a world-famous photographer, a fixture of shows and backstage, as well as the author of the last Prada Resort campaign. “I think street style photography is one of the elements that create excitement around fashion weeks, especially among the end consumers on social media and I personally believe it’ll survive the current crisis” agrees Jeremy Alvarez, a well-known photographer of European FWs. Convinced of the survival of the sector as well is Su Shan Leong, a photographer always travelling between Seoul and Paris. “Street fashion has always had an impact on consumers and fashion trends. After the lockdown, people might end up dressing up more because they miss not doing so during the lockdown. Additionally, the effect of this pandemic might bring about a new concept and amplifying the interpretation of fashion trends; such as dissecting and reworking protective garments, fabric manipulation to ensure comfortability, structured garments, interpreting nature in prints, silhouettes and concepts.”
Antoine De Almeida, a prominent photographer of European fashion weeks, has an opposite opinion. “I already feel the wider public has lost interest. Street style shifted from a discipline where we were photographing industry insiders and professionals who dress in an interesting way, because that’s who they really are, to photographing fake influencers dressed in full by a PR agency. I think the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the loss of interest for this, at least for a while, because it has become inauthentic.”
Finally, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to digitally replicate special moments such as those of Fashion Week without experiencing them firsthand.