Well, would you look at that. Another blogger with that Realisation Par leopard print skirt. It's having a bit of a moment on social media - primarily Instagram - right now and, as it's recently come back into stock, it's having another round of fame. On my account, I've seen it on roughly six other bloggers and that's just in the people I follow, the explore page is a whole other leopard-printed world.
This got me thinking about buying into the hype. We see these must-have (or are they?) pieces on other bloggers whose style we admire, or the people we like and suddenly this overwhelming need to hunt down a particular item consumes our brains (or at least that's what happens to me). So, in today's return to style blogging, I thought I'd discuss a few thoughts I've been having recently on hyped items and whether they're actually worth the place in our wardrobes.
This skirt. I wanted it since it adorned my favourite style blogger Lucy Williams and immediately found its way onto my lust-list. I frantically searched the website, signed up to the waiting list and patiently drummed my fingers against my desk until it came back into stock. The shut-up-and-take-my-money gif was truly the ruler of my decisions, so the cost didn't cross my brain because the need for it outweighed any logic. After all, it's an extortionate amount for a rectangle of printed silk, but there's something about it which was perfect. The print, the cut, imagine how nice it would look with a tshirt in Summer and a jumper over the top in Winter? Totally convinced.
Once it arrived and the excitement died down, I acknowledged what process I went through to get this skirt. How preoccupied I had become by something as it was deemed popular or 'on trend'. How I stalked a website and social media to see others wearing it, waited for it to come back and handed over my hard earned cash. Don't get me wrong, I love the skirt and will probably get a lot of wear out of it, but the almost obsessive need for it was something that concerned me. Why did I react like this?
I believe one one thing to blame would be the need to fit in. Everyone else has something like this, so why can't I? When you see certain pieces over and over again, it has an almost subliminal messaging impact and after a while you find yourself saying 'yeah, I could totally buy that' without actually thinking of whether you want it in the first place. It's happened with so many things in my wardrobe and, half of the time, they end up on my eBay account or in a carboot sale because I've opted for popularity over thinking if the item actually fits into my wardrobe or goes with my style.
We can't seem to resist a trend, especially as bloggers (well, the more active ones than myself) or Instagrammers. It's their/our job to reflect trends, to 'influence' purchases and show followers how they can style particular pieces for that season. There's nothing wrong with this and I personally use social media and my favourite style blogger to influence the majority of my sartorial decisions. The impact of seeing clothes on people who look like you has far outshone the glossy magazine spreads and, coupled with real time advice on sizes, fit and different ways to style something, it's no wonder that blogging has become a multi-million pound industry.
Following on from this, I wondered who we're actually doing this for? Are we buying clothes because we actually like them or to share online? Obviously it's different for every person and, as a blogger for six years, a lot of my time is thinking of turning pieces into content (well, when I actually blog...) but your average follower won't necessarily have the same pattern of thought.
I think, as someone whose job is online, we tend to live in bit of an Instagram bubble. We believe these items are popular because we see a lot of our favourite accounts (who we have curated) wearing these particular items and we convince ourselves that they are must-have items. But are they? Sure, there's always those cult Topshop pieces every month but I ponder whether they're popular based on actual sales or if one or two bigger 'influencers' (god, I hate that phrase) have shared the item so everyone else has followed suit.
When we actually go outside, do we see people on the high street wearing these things? Or at work or in bars at the weekend? It obviously varies depending on where you live, as London is always going to be more stylish than Newcastle, but I don't think I've seen anyone in leopard print let alone this skirt. Yet, I'm convinced it's popular because I see it online constantly and the hype is well and truly there.
Additionally, is there an element of showing off? If we didn't have a platform to post these items to, would we buy as much as we do? Or would we go back to showing off solely to our friends like me and my pals used to do in college (my friend Jina and I always bought the same coats, it became something of a running joke).
There has been a noticeable shift in the blogging world to designer items. As blogging has become more lucrative, Primark and Superdrug hauls have turned into designer bag collections, 'I spent £1000 in Topshop!!' videos and Chanel reviews. Now, as someone who adores high end bags and shoes, I would be a hypocrite to say I had an issue with this, however (and perhaps it's just the people I follow) it's rare to see people get excited over a high street bag in the same way people hit the like button on something expensive.
Have we, in this Instagram vacuum, created a hype for purchasing ludicrously priced items for the sake of sharing it? Take those Balenciaga or Louis Vuitton 'dad' trainers for example. Hideously expensive (and hideous in general, let's face it) but they're sold out everywhere because they've somehow become a must have. Trends can be fun and be taken with a pinch of salt, of course, but does something like this just give us online bragging rights or do we actually like them?
This leads me onto my final question - is there any harm in buying into the hype? Of course, the answer to this will depend entirely on your outlook on consumerism, environmentalism and money.
After looking over my YouTube subscription box, it's very haul-heavy. Hauls and wardrobe clear outs, to be more precise, as we're moving into Autumn. We all know they're the most popular (and lucrative) videos to make and often the most entertaining as it's nice for someone to effectively do the shopping for you, however after watching two or more in a row, it gives me the ick.
Now, it is tough when it's your job and style bloggers will naturally have a higher volume of items in their wardrobe. That's fine and I have no issue with this as I'm talking purely from my perspective with no shade intended, but it makes me question my own wardrobe, why I bought the things I did and the overall items in it.
I also wonder if buying into hype is more style over substance. Very rarely do we see extremely practical, long term purchases suddenly in high demand. Well, unless you count the sudden lust for Chanel handbags which are actually a great investment pieces. Classics vs trends is a topic we should perhaps be discussing more and, alongside buying new trendy pieces, perhaps we should be offering those who follow us more ways to wear the things they already own. I think as bloggers we can acknowledge those who follow us do not necessarily have the same wardrobes and may not consume fashion in the same way or at the same level, so we need to be conscious of this in a sense.
There has been a bit of a call for increased sustainability in the comment sections of YouTube videos and Instagram posts. Readers are definitely reacting to this haul culture we have developed online and it's a fair comment to make. I really appreciate when people note the materials their clothes are made from or how they were made, as it's a big deciding factor for me. I typically opt out of buying clothes that are mostly synthetic (like polyester) and instead go for natural materials like cotton where possible. If a coat isn't at least 60% wool, I won't buy it. Of course, I'm hardly a poster girl for sustainability, but making a conscious effort is something I'm working on this year.
I saw a story from one of my favourite YouTubers/Instagrammers Eva talking about a dress she purchased recently. It was a very pretty dress, she showed the pattern and linked it for her followers, but followed it up with a very practical message - 'I was in the market for a new dress, but if you're not then don't buy the dress'. It was so refreshing and really resonated with me, as it's the opposite of what I'm used to hearing (or saying myself when I'm sharing affiliate links).
Hyped and must-have items will always be around no doubt, but I wonder how I will approach them in the future. As someone who used to be a borderline hoarder with her wardrobe, my purchases are definitely much smaller and more considered these days. I do not regret buying the skirt as it's beautiful and I do love it, but being conscious of influences and hyped items is something I will be paying close attention to.
At the end of this, you can buy whatever you please and this article isn't to say otherwise. I wanted the skirt, I bought the skirt and will likely follow a similar pattern with other items 10x over before the year is out. Nothing, in my opinion, beats the rush of getting your mitts on something you've wanted for ages. Maybe for the rest of 2018, I'll turn that focus onto other achievements and other goals. Into finishing my flat. Into growing our business (pipdig) and maybe learning to drive...