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breaking and building walls

Rather than clothing just being exhibited in the traditional formal venues of printed magazines, store windows and design museums, street fashion photography has broken down and inverted traditional spaces for exhibition, by exploring fashion outside of its conventional walls. Rather than models and mannequins as the typical bodily space on which work was shown, everyday people have become of interest. In certain scenes, people have become fashion icons through their frequent appearance on fashion blogs. These people do not have to be designers, nor even wear them, though being photographed and webcasted wearing them would typically be a sign of prestige. Many fashion blogs showcase the person being photographed and the independent designer they are wearing. The resulting look is a combination of the designer's vision and the wearer's creativity. Combined with the fashion 'paparazzi' sensibility of fashion blogs, there are also many social dynamics involved. Such questions of 'who was seen? when? wearing what?' and also who is looking and observing necessarily entail questions of social positioning, group affiliations, exclusion and distinction. Because of the generally democratic, inclusive and participatory nature of the internet, more traditional forms of distinction and consecration have to be negotiated in new ways.

Rather than designated and institutionally-consecrated forms of art, street art allows everyday people to be consecrated by the people who create and street fashion blogs. Further, websites exist where people upload photographs of their own fashion sense, and thus, consecrate themselves. In this sense, the public visibility of having one's clothing worn, photographed and uploaded on the internet, and given proper recognition, is essentially, a new form of exhibition. It is not institutionally exhibited through a museum or gallery, but by less official and more diffuse networks of people, who are also connected to and visible by other local scenes.

One such example of a website where people upload their own pictures of their own fashion, tell about their own fashion, expose web-viewers to new designers, and even sell their own garments is a fashion social networking website called lookbook. In response to the non-curated spaces of the internet and its often democratic lack of distinction, lookbook is a participant-based social networking site that is based on distinction and taste through being made invite-only. Both designers and fashion wearers co-mingle in such online spaces, without a clear distinction between who is creating and who is consuming. There is a community of participants that turns the the static idea of clothing design into the active social process of fashion.