Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Q: Why did God invent beer?

A: So the Irish wouldn't rule the world.
Every once in a while I treat myself to a foreign fashion magazine, the kind you have to get at a megaretailer like Chapters rather than the corner kiosk:

A) It makes me feel extra fancy while I sit in my Hanes sweats and drink coffee.

B) I can forgive the unavailability of some items, language barriers, and constant currency conversion; I don't exactly make a laundry list of "price upon request" items I plan to buy out of US Vogue anyway.

C) The Sartorialist, being but one man, can only take fantastic street-style photos and blog about them one locale at a time. I need more globetrotting peoplespotting than that, but just don't have the Air Miles.

I was recently farmsitting for my folks while they, being semi-retired, pubcrawled across Ireland. Mama Bear sent envious highlight emails while I looked after the geriatric cat and octogenarian dog. Now, this hometown is too small to stock the latest issues of Vogue Italia or Jalouse (you would have to drive 100 clicks just to find a Playboy, my male friends tell me), so coming back to the city a few weeks later I feel a might out of sorts.

To hear Mama Bear tell, it's all paint-on skinnies and jeggings (*shudder* - worst chimera ever!) over there. And although Papa didn't allow for an official Arnott's visit, she managed to make note of the biggest trends. Handkerchief hems, lots of swingy/draped tops, rugby jerseys, and everything is over-accessorized (by North American standards, that is). Even the men have style. They're beating us.

It's unsurprising that the Irish are ahead of our curve, just like the British cousins. High Street retailers like Topshop, Next and French Connection consistently churn out affordable designs that both mimic and inform high fashion. Now, I'm not saying that Frida Giannini is scouring the H&M sale rack before designing Gucci's next collection, but the last few decades have seen a real shift in semiotics of fashion, in the dynamic between producer and consumer.

Designers cater to celebrities, who have the tremendous exposure required to launch careers in an industry of which they are not, strictly, a part (only Mrs. Obama could make a name like Prabal Gurung remotely pronounceable).

Consumers-come-connoisseurs are the new front-row staples (Tavi, bless her prepubescent heart) and designer muses (think models-turned-actresses-turned-spokesmodels Diane Kruger & Charlize Theron).

Remember Madonna (mis?)appropriating the 80's gay scene and Gwen Stefani incorporating Tokyo's Harajuku district style into her stage show and clothing line. These paragons of reinvention have been pirating street style for decades, but the industry acceptance of such tastemakers' legitimacy and importance is something new. Most recently, street style bloggers (ie: less euphemistically, peoplewatchers) have become the arbiters of what is 'happening'. The truly apt of this group are also the most valuable, commercially. Those who can spot what is about to happen, are worth their weight. Trendforecasting agencies hunt for people so in-the-know that they can predict oncoming tidal waves of consumer desire; it pays to be a precogniscent peoplewatcher. Seems they get swag and sometimes (gasp!) real jobs.

Two of Ireland's best Facehunter-esque blogs:

1) Fashionfilosophy claims to be "Ireland's 1st" street-style and fashion blog.

2) Also, DublinStreets is cute.

I am curious enough to do a little more research into what the fine Irish lads and lasses are wearing. In July of this year, The Irish Post issued a collection of six stamps honouring Irish designers and their eponymous collections. It's a good place to start, at least until I get my hands on a copy of If magazine.

No comments:

Post a Comment