One of the biggest problems with any great style is if it becomes too popular it becomes a trend. This isn’t necessarily horrible, but in most cases, and in most places, trends can ruin the feeling of originality people have when they create their own style. Honestly, there’s probably not many original things people can come up with anymore which is why printed t-shirts featuring original art manage to maintain popularity. Fashion can imitate art but not all art is wearable like it is if its on a t-shirt. There are designers that really push the bar and make things completely unwearable, but we don’t walk about them here.
T-shirts and unwearable art fashion aren’t ideal modes of expression for everyone, at least not the only mode. Revitalized fashion is my favorite kind of original idea but sometimes this also becomes a mass marketed trend soon after some awesome person brings it back to life. For example a designer brought back stirrup pants a couple seasons ago and before she released the next line, American Apparel had them too. No ones saying they stole the idea from her of course but it’s funny how fashion works like that. Trends sneak up on you, maybe you saw something out of the corner of your eye or on a re-aired episode of 21 Jump Street, but so did someone else. One trick to designing things that cannot be reproduced quite like yours, is to make them damn good and somehow identifiable as yours. Marketing your style a certain way is key as well. Photos of your fashion pinned up against a white wall with no model, no interesting lighting, no unique location etc, can make your stuff look about as interesting as bread. The fight for originality is the same for music and photography as well. It seems like almost everyone’s band sounds like someone else and photos really need to be surprising to be new to the public eye. This is why personal style is the only way to save the future of music, fashion and art.
Staying ahead of trends and why not to bother
I think its impossible to predict what’s coming up and really be sure. Every time you see a new season of clothing released on a major distributors website there’s always a color theme or a name like “Boho-chic” or “new hippie”. These things were all predetermined by a little genie in a closet at the International Expensive Fashion Designer’s League. Who really decides that the fall colors are? (throw some crayons) “blue and brown!”. Subliminally media is telling us every day what the next trends are or how elements of your personal style just got jacked by Nicole Ritchie.
It’s hard to overcome these messages and allow your style to be truly unique. It can be tedious to try to stay ahead of or outside of the trends, looking to other countries for inspiration, trying in invent new styles. It’s amazing what starts here and takes years to get somewhere else and viceversa. Sometimes international idea shopping works out but it can just as easily be your fault that it finally gets to the mass market in your area. This is pointless to fight. Personal style shouldn’t be based on what other people are doing (or going to do) and what the national or international trend is, it should be based on what you like and don’t like. Definitely take elements from people around the world, style is here to share. Regardless if what you are wearing is being worn by 10k other people, no one will be able to wear it like you. This theory is based on the idea that life IS actually more important than spending your entire young life worrying about being hip. Great style comes from within in a conscious effort to express yourself. This theory falls apart when you consider people who think they are being original and end up clones instead. I wont name any names because I don’t really care as much as I thought I did that hipsters were giving “street fashion” a blazay reputation.
Having a different point of view
After traveling and getting a little perspective, I’ve noticed that the issue of style paranoia is much more noticeable in the US than in South America for example (I cant really compare anywhere else ). In Buenos Aires, I was rarely concerned with what people thought about my clothes. After just a few months I felt like everyone (who was into style) just wore anything, some better than others. It was a relief to wear things I would have been nervous wearing in the US. I also noticed early on that no one really took notice at all to what I wore unless they wanted to compliment me or ask me questions. Where as here I sometimes feel if I walk into the wrong store wearing the wrong shirt I’ll get bad service (and almost no one under 40 will compliment you). In Buenos Aires and Montevideo I felt that having creative style was appreciated, recognized and respected. Dressing stylishly and creatively spanned randomly throughout every age group and nearly every type of person. Fashion was not what defined people so much as the people defined their fashion. This is not a statement about every single person in the city, just people who shared an interest in creative fashion. Boutiques were a good place to get a perspective on what people were into and their additudes. The people shopping in them and working in them just seemed excited that you were interested in their designs, no matter who you were.
Portland in contrast can be a little hard to feel comfortable in at times. Even if they wont admit it, Portland is a small town trapped in the body of a medium sized town. In its defense it is slowly becoming a little coal powered fashion engine. For every mom and pop store that closes due to the economy, a new Boutique pops up in its place and can survive. It used to be a joke that everyother person you knew here was in a band but now I think thats been replaced by designers. People here apreciate their fashion and they are constantly pumping out new designers, one of who just won Project Runway. They also seem to have some sort of fashion show or grand opening at least every other week. I think as far as trends go, Portland is on its way to becoming the center of some rather than just another reciever. Most of the people I’ve met in the fashion community are awesome people but it can be a common experience to get a hip shoulder (the hip cold shoulder) in boutiques. Some places wont even say “hi” when you walk in the door let alone act excited to see you or show you anything. I think thats sad really, additude is everything when you want return customers and when you want your loca scene to flourish. In fact, I often just leave a shop if I get additude from the staff, coupled by a $60 price tag on a t-shirt.