And Jill came tumblring down…

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Since joining Tumblr over the Christmas vac, I’ve become addicted. It’s something to do with the way it self-replenishes. Blogs with endless scrolling, constantly updated tags, and memes referencing memes referencing the cardinal truth of how Sherlock ripped everyone’s heart out. My own slice of internet is an ill-disciplined affair. There’s a bit of Deleuze and Guatarri, bit of True Blood, screencaps of the unfairly neglected mid-‘90s biopic Total Eclipse. Let’s just say I’m unlikely to become Tumblr-famous for an exquisitely curated selection of images any time soon. The primary allure of the site, for me, lies in its rapid distribution of the fleeting and recent; pulling together images into a coordinated whole. This makes it a place where fashion journalism thrives. It ranges from the thrown-together simplicity of Polyvore sets to lengthy posts on cultural appropriation – Urban Outfitters’ bastardization of American Indian tradition, and, more contentiously, Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls.

The flipside of the Arcadia group’s desire to flood the British high street with ill-conceived ‘Aztec’ accessories is Tumblr’s boon; the facilitation of unmediated cultural exchange through the internet. It’s far from Utopian – Tumblr is itself a corporate entity. Also, like any large-scale media platform, it attracts the standard cohort of trolls and conspiracy theorists; ideologues who apparently don’t need a lot of sleep. It is not a representative collection of worldwide attitudes to style. You need a bare minimum of computer access, a government that doesn’t censor the internet and the economic freedom to allow you to blog – and it’s predominantly young, female and socially liberal. Regardless, the images, marked by their aesthetic appeal and coherence and put together by enthusiasts from Brazil, Greece and Sweden, keep me fixated. The individuality of the most striking fashion blogs distinguishes them from the default Tumblr aesthetic; a blend of revived ‘90s trends such as dip dye and Lana del Rey’s doomed Hollywood schtick. My favourite blog, talkingtokafka.tumblr.com, combines architecture, literature and photography. Its little sister, style blog beautephilia.tumblr.com, offers a take on modern minimalist style. It prioritizes shape and line in monochromatic tones, with the occasional pop of neon or Perspex. Odetofemininity.tumblr.com is currently on hiatus, but its lush archives of classic screen icons interspersed with quotes from Anais Nin and Diana Vreeland make me plead for its return. Whyiamtellingyouaboutit.tumblr.com exudes retro, gay, NYC sensibility with posts of vintage sportswear gym bunnies and the understated sexuality of Ann Demeulemeester’s black collections.

The appeal of the Tumblr set-up looks increasingly to be co-opted by the Anglo-American fashion mainstream. H&M’s new baby, top-end high-street brand ‘& Other Stories’, uses a similar layout to many Tumblr themes to present its collections online. In store, too, its Regent Street flagship employs a blogger-esque approach, co-ordinating whole displays around a single bold accessory, rejecting rapid trend-lead turnover in favour of a collaborationist ethos. Then again, not all Tumblr influence on British popular culture is great. Personally, I’m looking forward to erosion of the celeb-Grazia -high street trickle-down.  On the other hand, in the undeniable words of Vice, ‘Cher Lloyd now has sea punk hair.’

 

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