A different point of view about using street as design inspiration.
What comes to your mind when the word "street" is uttered? For me, who resides in the crowded, collapsing capital called Jakarta, traffic, dust, and endless constructions are the top three answers. Different take on the "street" will surely come out from the blessed groups whose view includes the Eiffel, the Empire State Building or the Brandenburg Gate. Street, for them, might spark inspiration, raw energy and stylish crowd hanging out in hip places. Put a photographer in that spot, and you will get stream of invigorating street style shots, capturing real people dress in an effortless chic manner ready to be snapped any time and still look cool. This particular understanding of "street" then brings title of "high street" to Zara, Topshop and those alike, in a way entitling them to claim the style of the street as rightfully theirs.
I have vague idea of which one comes first: whether the high street chains produce accessible clothes and gain profits, which lures the high-end designers to draw elements of the "street" for their own collections, or whether the designers inspire the high-street brands to adopt their design at a more affordable price range. In both cases, the street is much praised, and its influence transpires to all layers of fashion kingdom. Sneakers, backpacks, denim, bomber jackets, slouch dresses, and more - almost everything on the runway can be called "street," and here we see how street transforms from the roads you walk on into an adjective in the fashion universe. Street equals to laid back, slightly rebellious, oftentimes wild. Street is young and sporty. Street is new, more commercial, more accessible. The rise of the street is even further escalated by the couture fashion houses: Dior introduces sneakers in the spring '14 couture collection and Chanel brings "street protesters" (a.k.a. white-dominated models screaming feminism manifesto) to its spring/summer '15 runway.
Reflecting back to the streets of Jakarta, or even the streets of Berlin (this I can testify for I have physically been there), the spirit of the real street has definitely lost its meaning in fashion. On the street people are struggling to survive, thumping the ground to make their way to work. Teenagers who hang out on the streets are no longer revolutionists, they simply have nowhere to go or they just don't have money to go anywhere. Street, at the same time, is a familiar pathway that can lead you to home. But to cite street as an inspiration for glamorous pieces being appropriated for daily wear (cue: Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent) is taking advantage of a struggling place. Anything but street, I beg you, a word to describe your clothes and what is currently in trend.
P.S. Style.com has been re-designed and it includes "street" as the menu now. I am an opposition in this case, although Tommy Ton's street style photos are always the ones I impatiently click during fashion week.