In the old days we would pour over the latest issue of Vogue, skipping straight to the trends pages pulled from the exalted runways of Paris, Milan and New York.
We would learn that grunge was cool (the first time around, that is), via IRL Pinterest-style mood boards. Fashion editors communicated an ethos onto the page – "trends" born from cultural moments that actually meant something; cultural movements that had staying power.
We would walk away, remembering in essence only a general idea – a feeling about what grunge "was".
Nowadays the story goes something like this...
Cool, eclectic chick wears throwback Gucci bag with ironically retro inspired manic pixie outfit. Street style photographer takes photo because said chick is cool and eclectic. Photo goes viral. Every blogger and stylist around the world learns the wrong style lesson: that Gucci throwback is cool, rather than the style of the chick who was wearing it.
Nowadays we screen shot a blogger look within minutes of it being posted and aim to recreate it in its exactness. We can refer back to it, over and over, in its specific composition. We click for tags so that we can find the exact bag and the exact tee, and we pair them together in the exact same way – completely missing the "feeling" in the process.
In other words, Instagram has ruined trends.
Take this, for example, posted by New York Times Fashion.
Is the lesson here that yellow snakeskin boots are trendy? No. The lesson here is to be yourself, no matter how weird and wonderful.
By screen-shotting this look for our Pinterest board, to no doubt copy later, we are removing the original lesson: that being yourself is stylish.
Not trying to be a facsimile of an Instagram shot.
Street style photographers capture these images to provide us Instagram-obsessed fashion trainspotters with 'real style inspiration’. But if being yourself is so cool, why can't that self be wearing jeans and a tee (without being an "off duty model")? Why is all the style inspiration photographed at fashion week all so staged?
It's fake eclecticism at its best.
I'm all for being yourself – whether that be Iris Apfel kooky or Mary Kate Olsen bag lady.
But I'm also all for being yourself if that self is 100% #basicbitch realness.
After all, the entire ethos of grunge found its roots in being a poor kid in freezing Seattle and working with what you could find at the local thrift store. The genesis of the grunge 'trend' was about as real as you could get.
I want you all to know that getting photographed at fash week isn't necessarily a verification of style -–and I think it's dangerous for the Instagram generation to think it is. Some of the coolest people I know in fashion are never photographed. And that's the way they like it.
Follow Bianca's fashion for octogenarians, i.e. women over 30, at @_thesecondrow.