The Social Fashion Revolution

These days it’s all about interactive apps that make you the star, writes Teri Rosenbaum

Every girl has been there: standing in front of the wardrobe, thumbing past leopard print tops, Fair Isle cardigans and bodycon dresses, all with increasing ennui. You begin pacing back and forth the length of the closet, hoping for a little clothes cupid to shoot his arrow at the perfect outfit for Saturday night. You know, that outfit.

But, alas, the little clothes cupid never appears. It’s official: you’ve got nothing to wear. Of course there’s hundreds of options, outfits for every occasion, in every print imaginable, every texture, every colour. In spite of it all, some days you just need that extra boost of inspiration. Until then, however… you’ve still got nothing to wear.

But have no fear – there’s an app for that.

New social platforms and mobile technologies have created ever-increasing opportunities to share just about everything in life, whether we’re on-the-go or on the couch. Those opportunities are, in turn, creating a compulsion to do so.  And fashion, the natural art form of the compulsive, is leading the field.

The first iterations of social fashion were all about discovery. Back in 2005, Scott Schuman revolutionised the world of street style fashion by launching his blog, The Sartorialist. Schuman photographed people on city streets — people who inspired him — and uploaded the photos to his blog for the world to discover. It’s a very simple concept of inspiration sharing, one which has since been emulated innumerable times.

But that was in 2005, the dark ages of the Internet. In 2011 inspiration blogs are so old hat, your grandma probably has one. And that’s partly because we’ve evolved from platforms to apps. Discovery now feels too passive, too impersonal — it’s time for interaction to shine. Our new vocabulary is one of sharing, commenting, liking, and listening – and that’s what apps do best. Social fashion has come of age.

Take startup company Snapette, which launched an iPhone and iPad app intent on becoming the “social destination for fashion lovers on the go”. Founded by two female entrepreneurs, and subsequently funded by a number of female investors, Snapette has already received $1.3M in seed money. The idea behind the app is that you can head to your favourite boutique, snap a photo of something that intrigues you and then upload it with some basic product info. Instantly you can “discover and share great fashion finds from around the corner or around the world.” Et voilà! Your real-life shopping experience has gone digital.

Then there’s the tale of London-based fashion social network What I Wore Today (WIWT), which was inspired by the Poppy Dinsey’s hugely popular blog. WIWT first launched as a website only to make way for its true champion, the app. The concept is similar to Snapette’s, only swap out the new digs for your current wardrobe. You know those days where you throw on an old pair of jeans, slip on that top you just weren’t sure about, and somehow, miraculously, they merge to form an outfit that happens to be the epitome of effortless chic? Well, this app was made for those days. Take a quick photo in the mirror, upload, and revel in the glory that a great outfit can bring. (And if you’re lucky, you might even get a gold star!)

In essence, it’s show and tell for (well-dressed) grown-ups.

Of course for most of us, our great fashion inspiration still arrives from old-school avenues: well-clad ladies spotted on the tube; an inventive use of lace sported in Spitalfields Market. With something as sensual and tactile as clothes, real life still has greater impact than pixels ever can. But the advantage of online social fashion it that it offers greater control than with the real world, as you can cultivate your own network of admirable fashion plates. With WIWT, you choose whose outfits to follow. That girl with pigtails and an extensive collection of Disney princess knitwear? You can filter her out. And the woman who might as well have just hopped off the page of a Celine lookbook? She can stay. (If only this worked in real life…)

Apps like Snapette also have the added benefit of being location-based – because that amazing bag from a cute boutique in Sydney isn’t going to help you out if you’re in London. With Snapette, if you have a couple of hours to kill in Chelsea, you can search for items posted nearest to you and bam! You have your very own bespoke shopping guide.

Channel 4 has also recently launched Closet Swap, a new Facebook and iPhone app intent on promoting sustainable fashion by enabling friends to share and swap clothes easily. Take a few snaps of your own clothes, upload ‘em and share them with your real-life friends — once they do the same, your wardrobes are at each other’s disposal. So when you need something for that office party but you’re still another week away from payday, just open up the app and see how your friends can help.

Closet Swap has already been adopted by London-based accessories duo Tatty Devine. “Swapping, reusing and customising are how we started Tatty Devine. We firmly believe in the power of the swap,’” said co-founder Rosie Wolfenden. Sharing and swapping clothes is a tried-and-true concept, it’s simply been brought into the digital age. In fact, all of these examples fit into this category. We’ve always looked to each other for inspiration, this is simply the latest (and maybe greatest) way of doing so.

Most excitingly, this is only the beginning; these networks are going to grow and develop at an incredible rate over the next weeks, months, years. Social fashion is here to stay, so you might as well dress up for the party.


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