The Web is so much more than just a place to exchange. It offers more than just ideas, products, information, news, and pleasure. For some of us it is a venue for community. Some people find more, feel more, and experience more while surfing the infinite void of information. And they become so good at it that these people manage to find each other, they share their likeminded ideas, their relevant information, their similar humor with each other. These people find each other on social news websites. They form communities on these websites, they become committed to these websites, and make them not only part of their daily routine but their lives. So if these communities formed on social news sites are so important and tight then why do some of them fade into the Internet abyss? Why do some social news sites, ones that were once filled with users that committed themselves to the community of the site leave? Are they just moving on to something better? Or are there other motivations, other outside forces that break the community and disvalue the site?
The world of fashion has seen an explosion of street style blogging within the past 5 years. Trend setters or the simply fashion obsessed, photograph moments of exceptional style seen on the street. Bloggers like The Startorialist and FaceHunter travel around the world looking for inspirational style. Although most of these people are unknown outside of fashion, the appeal of these images is enormous. Most fashion websites now include street photography as part of their mix, and Grazia magazine devotes two pages of its Style Hunter pages to real-life fashion every week. The street style blog has created a new platform with which to interact with a very real, lived world of style. This category of style blogging distances itself from magazine culture or trend blogging, giving clothing a body and personality.
But until recently even this form of trend capturing has been entirely one- sided, featuring only the views of the blogger. In February of 2009, an interactive fashion community called StyleCaster was launched. It features an entirely new approach to style discovery by combining premium content, discussion through an engaged community and the seamless ability to purchase through e-commerce into one exciting platform. Not only is the site profitable, it sees 83,000 unique visitors monthly in the US (according to Comscore) and features ad campaigns with over 30 major advertisers including DietCoke, but it also has created a unique community of people trying to discover their personal style and get feedback on their daily choices. Not only can users upload photos of their daily look in a section called “Daily Mirrors” but they can compose a sort of style collage made up of items of clothing, accessories and beauty products. Users can browse other users’ profiles to rate their daily look, get inspiration, and make comments as they go.
For my travelogue, I hope to make connections with a number of StyleCaster users. If possible, I’d like to get interviews with some of the most
influential users, as they receive the most feedback and are most engaged with the site. I wonder how using the site shapes the idea of personal style. And, if users are all gaining inspiration from each other and the trends that StyleCaster editors deem to be fashionable, at what point does the sartorial individual become just a part of the collective. I will also create my own account and attempt to find out if the content on the site has an effect on my own style. I hope to be able to answer the question of, when the closet becomes virtual and we are exposed to more information than ever before, are we still able to sift through an choose what best represents ourselves? Or, do we get overwhelmed and adopt the most popular style?