A particularly intriguing phenomenon that I think plays an important role in contemporary popular culture is fashion. In the technological ocean that we all swim in, it has become increasingly facile for fashion trends to disseminate and for the so-called fashion savvy folk to prove their superior style and individuality. There are myriad numbers of little tidal pools of fashion blogs, but I find the website, lookbook.nu, to be of particular interest.
Lookbook.nu (or LB for short) is an online community of fashion enthusiasts “dedicated to showcasing member-uploaded ‘street style’ photography.” It is essentially a place for the well-dressed fashionistas to post photographs of their outfits on the Internet for other likeminded people to view. The website proclaims that lookbook “[i]n a sense… is the world’s first, truly editorless fashion magazine.”
It would be interesting to discuss this website as a tool that perpetuates class differences. While it is true that one can be fashionable at discounted prices, especially with the trend of thrift store shopping, but even taking that into consideration it is still spendy to try to keep up with the evolution of fashion. To quote Oscar Wilde, “fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” If you are struggling to pay rent and feed yourself, it’s not likely that you will have the expenses to purchase a closet full of stylish clothes and accessories and then to replace them once they lose their chic.
Another topic of inquiry would be how does lookbook feed elitism? The way one dresses seems to mark the line of what is cool versus what is not. Arguably, one of the easiest ways to fit in with a group of people is to learn to mimic their dressing habits. The style of clothing you wear, in a way, marks your status in society, and if one wants to belong to a certain category they need a certain look. The members of lookbook are beautiful, thin, and artsy, a style which is popular currently. Henry David Thoreau said “perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility.” Lookbook is a vehicle to transport an image to a wide public to gain recognition for refined and unique taste.
An argument contrary to the opinions stated above is that a truly fashion savvy individual is an artist and the clothes that they choose to buy and wear are artistic expression. Given this view, lookbook becomes a gallery of sorts and provides a space for people to showcase their “pieces” and to glean inspiration from others. However, if the clothing that they are wearing is purchased from shops that contain multiple of the same item, is it truly individualistic? Lookbook may also provide the average Joe a manual for staying current on popular or upcoming trends.
I find lookbook.nu to be an interesting social network especially because it is a worldwide phenomenon. It provides evidence that fashion is salient to popular culture around the globe and that it effects society, particularly younger people from teenage to twenties. I believe that this would be a relevant topic for discussion as to the dispersal of new trends and what they signify, the significance of this sort of website, and the intentions and implications it has on those who view and participate in it.