Taste and style in this context refer not only to fashion, but also to the way our personal spaces, both public and private, are designed.
In the past, ‘good taste’ used to belong to the upper class. They had the resources to hire architects and interior designers, as well as the money to buy artisanal clothing created by couturiers.
The Effect of Social Media
Social media’s rise in the 21st century blurred the social divide by making the concept of taste available to everyone who has access to the internet.
When a trendsetter posts a photo of what he is wearing on Instagram, it is no longer difficult to copy that look, even though the original look consisted of designer clothing. Likewise, when a photo of a beautiful room owned by a celebrity becomes popular in social media, it’s much easier to make your home look the same way, especially with the help of articles containing DIY instructions.
Is this democratization good or bad? It depends where you are in the scheme of things.
The Fashion Industry
Originality of individuals goes out the window because copying someone else’s celebrated style is much easier.
Mid-range brands copy works of high fashion brands, and become more commercially successful. Avant-garde designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Viktor & Rolf had to stop their ready-to-wear lines because of dismal sales.
High fashion brands are sadly taking note of the power and reach of social media, and they too have shifted their focus from creativity towards trendiness. Dior and Chanel no longer have the originality they once had, since being unique has already become an unsustainable business model.
If the couture market has shrunk, the same is true in the demand for interior designers. Most households in the mid-range level prefer to decorate on their own with the help of magazines, or sites like Pinterest or Tumblr. The result is living spaces that look identical.
Social media has influenced our views on what we find beautiful and cool and has allowed us to easily imitate those ideas, yet it has also made us lose sight of our individuality and has degraded the artistic integrity of the design industry.
Social media is the great leveler, where the purview of style and taste does not belong only to the rich.
But the ante is up. Some say it’s hard to be original nowadays because everything has already been done in the past. That’s where the challenge lies, and where the beauty lies.
We are all called upon to get to know ourselves better, and to speak in our own voice. Your apartment doesn’t need to look “hipster” if it doesn’t suit your personal preference.
Choose the look you want, rather than what’s popular. Experiment. Think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to create something different.