My style changes with my mood, and lately I’ve been rocking a look I like to call “Balkan Gypsy Refugee,” a hodgepodge of intense sandals, ethnic prints and the harem pant. I first met, and got obsessed, with harem pants in Argentina. At first I was highly skeptical; I’m 5”2, and old enough to remember MC Hammer. But when you’re in Rome… the pants were so soft, and ideally suited to the temperamental spring of Buenos Aires that was tropical one minute and cool the next. They evoked gypsies and oriental caravans… and they were cute paired with thong booties. I also thought they were emblematic of Buenos Aires; which upped their appeal immensely, and made me feel like some sort of globe-trotting, vino-drinking, Borges quoting asshole. To quote Jezebel.com;
Look, you may think you look like the heir to a Swiss chocolate fortune who's going dancing in Ibiza or needs a cover-up over your bikini when driving your moped from one side of Mallorca to the other when you wear these. But actually, you look like you've shit yourself and need to change your diaper. Trust. http://jezebel.com/5273953/5-hideous-things-urban-outfitters-wants-you-to-wear-this-summer/gallery/
Imagine my disappointment when warm weather hit Toronto and I realized that harem pants were not unique to Argentina. They’re just a season ahead of us due to that planet rotation thing and this was actually a global trend.
As with music; fashion has found an ideal medium with the internet to propagate and proliferate amongst street style and personal style blogs and websites. The time between the germination of a trend and its appearance in mall stores has shrunk incredibly as designers have access to style photography from all over the world, and a savvier consumer who is more creative and willing to try something new every season. Rather than a couple major trends per season, we now have several micro-trends that run in and out of each other. Its all very meta.
When and where did the current harem pant trend start? It may indeed have started in Argentina. In 2001 their economy crashed on a scale much like the US is experiencing right now. As importing clothes became rather expensive; a homegrown fashion industry developed. And as prices fell in Argentina and the peso devalued; Europeans and Australians flocked to Argentina to take advantage. Buenos Aires became the Prague of the 2000s, and cool-hunting tourists certainly borrowed some ideas to take home.
If you don’t have the money to travel because you spent it all on sky-high studded platform shoes; you can always check out street style and personal style blogs from all over the world to give you an idea of what fashionistas are wearing from Berlin to Beijing. A huge part of the new rapid-fire dissemination of trends is the fashion blogging culture that started a few years ago. Originally begun as a quirky hobby, street style blogs are now a respected fashion medium. The Sartorialist, one of the original and best street style photographers, became a regular contributor to Vogue’s Style.com.
What makes blogging a perfect medium for fashion is that it works as a digital sketch/scrapbook to immediately record images and thoughts about fashion, and share instantly. My favorite street blogs include Copenhagen Street Style (Copenhagen), Hel Looks (Helsinki), Hi Styley (Los Angeles), The Style Scout (London), Stil in Berlin (Berlin), The Streets Walker (Tel Aviv) and Garance Dore (Paris/New York).
For those who don’t want to wait for a photographer to find them on the street looking awesome and would rather use a tripod and auto-timer, the personal style blog is an option. Personal style blogs are more myopic, focusing on the obsessions of the author. Some of the better sites include Lady Melbourne (Melbourne), Le Blog de Betty (Paris), and What I Wore, (New York). Personal style documentation works best when pooled with a community of fashionistas. I check the flickr pool Wardrobe Remix (North American based) regularly. Anyone can upload photos of their outfits; its strength is that it celebrates all styles, budgets, and body types, without editing by a third eye to decide who is or isn’t attractive. The emphasis is on mixing stuff you already own with store-bought, handmade, indie and vintage items in interesting ways.
Like Argentina after 2001, North America will be experiencing our own style evolution as the focus shifts from luxury brands and status fashion to creative, DIY, ethical fashion. The kind of fashion that nerd girls have been wearing all along.