When I visited our L.A. offices earlier this year, one of the editors there (who lives 5437 miles away from me) was wearing a Rixo dress, a Staud bucket bag and a pair of boots that I had in my suitcase back at the hotel. Cult items that are popular on Instagram, it seems, are like McDonald's Happy Meals and Starbucks frappuccinos—they are just as alluring whether you're in Paris, Philadelphia, London or Los Angeles. Globalisation in fashion is nothing new—the likes of Zara, Topshop and ASOS have all shipped internationally for some time. What has changed, however, is the speed at which trends translate internationally. Small labels that are just finding their feet can become global sensations overnight, and outfit ideas cross continents in the time it takes to publish one Instagram picture.
This summer, you'll see Susan Alexandra's colourful beaded bags, Réalisation's leopard-printed slip skirt and Veja trainers on the fashion crowd in Paris, New York, London, Hong Kong and Sydney. Scrolling through Instagram, it seems like our idea of what separates "French style" from "Scandi style" or "British style" has become more and more of a myth. For example, French It girl Jeanne Damas will wear Danish brand Ganni's of-the-moment print alongside Breton stripes and a basket bag. Conversely, you will spot a Jane Birkin–style straw bag every time you get on the tube in London.
"Trends are becoming more global because Instagram has given millions of people across the globe access to these trends," says Paris-based influencer Ellie of Slip into Style. "Thanks to IG, you can see the way women from another part of the world dress—so much so that it’s becoming trickier and trickier to tell specific styles from one another. 'French style' is no longer as well defined as it used to be. In my opinion, it is slowly being assimilated into a more minimalistic style with neutral colour palettes, sleek tailoring and staple pieces like a trusted pair of jeans and a white T-shirt."
The fashion community on Instagram breaks down borders. Through just a couple taps on your phone, you can see in real time how people are dressing all over the world. And with the help of next-day delivery, you can re-create the exact looks for yourself within days. You can buy Balinese basket bags or tourist T-shirts without stepping on a plane, thanks to sites like Depop and Etsy. An It outfit—like the leopard-printed Réalisation skirt, Veja trainers and T-shirt combination that has dominated this summer—can now come to you in just one or two weeks.
Despite the rapid speed that trends travel, geography does still play a part in style, and there are things that will always be considered distinctly French or Scandinavian. In Copenhagen, it's all about colourful prints; Stockholm is more classic and minimal; and Londoners are all about being playful and practical at the same time. However, the key difference is that now you don't actually have to be from somewhere to dress like you live there. Thanks to social media, you can replicate the "London look" from anywhere in the world. "I believe that French women do still have 'French style'—that je ne sais quoi or flair that makes them stand out," says Ellie. "But when I turn to my Instagram, I see a lot of women from Poland or the U.S. who master the style just as convincingly as a French woman would. It's is no longer just for French women."